The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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MIKE A PUBLIC SCHOOL STORY

BY P. G. WODEHOUSE

CONTAINING TWELVE FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS BY T. M. R. WHITWELL

LONDON 1909.

[Illustration (Frontispiece): "ARE YOU THE M. JACKSON THEN WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"]

[Dedication] TO

ALAN DURAND

CONTENTS CHAPTER I. MIKE II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. XIII. XIV. XV. XVI. XVII. XVIII. XIX. XX. XXI. XXII. XXIII. XXIV. XXV. XXVI. THE JOURNEY DOWN MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE AT THE NETS REVELRY BY NIGHT IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED A ROW WITH THE TOWN BEFORE THE STORM THE GREAT PICNIC THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE THE M.C.C. MATCH A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO MIKE CREATES A VACANCY AN EXPERT EXAMINATION ANOTHER VACANCY BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN THE TEAM IS FILLED UP MARJORY THE FRANK WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT A SURPRISE FOR MR. APPLEBY CAUGHT MARCHING ORDERS THE AFTERMATH

XXVII.

THE RIPTON MATCH

XXVIII. MIKE WINS HOME XXIX. XXX. XXXI. XXXII. WYATT AGAIN MR. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND SEDLEIGH PSMITH

XXXIII. STAKING OUT A CLAIM XXXIV. XXXV. XXXVI. GUERILLA WARFARE UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS ADAIR

XXXVII. MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION XXXVIII. THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING XXXIX. XL. XLI. XLII. XLIII. XLIV. XLV. XLVI. XLVII. ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION AND FULFILS IT PURSUIT THE DECORATION OF SAMMY MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT

XLVIII. THE SLEUTH-HOUND XLIX. L. LI. LII. LIII. LIV. LV. LVI. A CHECK THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS ON THE TRAIL AGAIN THE KETTLE METHOD ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE CLEARING THE AIR IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED

LVII. LVIII. LIX.

MR. DOWNING MOVES THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK SEDLEIGH _v._ WRYKYN

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS BY T. M. R. WHITWELL "ARE YOU THE M. JACKSON, THEN, WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?" THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM "DON'T _LAUGH_, YOU GRINNING APE" "DO--YOU--SEE, YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?" "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?" MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?" PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?" "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE, SMITH?" MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER

CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

Last year he had been tried once or twice. Marjory. In face." This was mere stereo." she said. you little beast. "Hullo. if he sweats." "Considering there are eight old colours left. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's." "We aren't in the same house. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside." The aspersion stung Marjory. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. Mike was her special ally. but preferred him at a distance. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. He was fond of him in the abstract. His figure was thin and wiry. "sorry I'm late. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term." said Bob loftily. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. and the missing member of the family appeared. he was curiously like his brother Joe. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field. Marjory gave tongue again." he said." was his reference to the sponge incident. He might get his third. He was a sound bat. Mrs." she muttered truculently through it. His third remark was of a practical nature. This year it should be all right. who had shown signs of finishing it. The door opened. I bet he does. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis. Bob disdained to reply. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers. "All right. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. "Anyhow. Marjory." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. "I bet he gets in before you. Jackson intervened. "Go on with your breakfast. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred." Bob was in Donaldson's. . anyway."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. That's one comfort. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters." she said. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body. and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much.

suddenly drew a long breath." groaned Bob. "Mike. Jackson believed in private coaching. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. and every spring since Joe. Mr." "Is he. like Mike. "All the boys were there. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so. Mike put on his pads. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. obliged with a solo of her own composition. Saunders. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. aged three. was engaged in putting up the net. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term." she said. sound article. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. "Good. In Bob he would turn out a good."I say. you're going to Wrykyn. But he was not a cricket genius. you're going to Wrykyn next term." "Oh. Whereat Gladys Maud. but the style was there already. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. The strength could only come with years. what's under that dish?" "Mike." began Mr. ages ago. So was father." shouted Marjory. Mike looked round the table. somebody. Gladys Maud Evangeline." From Phyllis. as follows: "Mike Wryky. Mike Wryky. Saunders. in six-eight time. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast." From Ella. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. "I say." he said. you know." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . "Mike. assisted by the gardener's boy. There was nothing the matter with Bob. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. the professional. It was a great moment. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. "Mike. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. Joe's style. the eldest of the family. Mike was his special favourite. with improvements. put a green baize cloth over that kid.

you see. you see. a sort of pageant. miss. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. isn't he? He's better than Bob. I'm not saying it mightn't be. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years." "But Mike's jolly strong. Ready. I was only saying don't count on it. Going to a public school. it's this way." "Ah. miss. It would be a record if he did. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. as she returned the ball. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. The whole thing is. especially at . miss. "He hit that hard enough. It's quite likely that it will. too. every bit. in a manner of speaking. and it stands to reason they're stronger. It's all there. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten. What are they like?" "Well. He's got as much style as Mr. Saunders. with Master Mike. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. Joe's got. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him." "No. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste." Marjory sat down again beside the net. miss. "Well. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen." said the professional. and that's where the runs come in. perhaps. There's a young gentleman." As Saunders had said. miss. You know these school professionals. and watched more hopefully. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. didn't he. we'll hope for the best. I don't. Still. he was playing more strongly than usual. miss. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. and nineteen perhaps." Saunders looked a little doubtful. "Next term!" he said. Saunders? He's awfully good. That's what he'll be playing for. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. To-day. "they'd have him in the team before you could say knife. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. it was all there. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself."School team. Don't you think he might. Master Mike? Play. only all I say is don't count on it. Saunders?" she asked." "Yes. but I meant next term. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term.

He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. frankly bored with the whole business. The air was full of last messages. Mothers. And as Marjory. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. by all accounts. there was Bob.the beginning of the summer term. and now the thing had come about. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. smiling vaguely. Gladys Maud cried. Bob. practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. the village idiot. The latter were not numerous. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. According to Bob they had no earthly. Mr. and carried a small . these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. Meanwhile. nor profound. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. and Mrs. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. While he was engaged on these reflections. He had a sharp face. though evidently some years older. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. Bob. The train gathered speed. but then Bob only recognised one house. He was alone in the carriage. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. On the other hand. was to board the train at East Wobsley. the train drew up at a small station. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. however. in his opinion. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. and his reflections. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. It might be true that some day he would play for England. Donaldson's. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. He wore a bowler hat. was on the verge of the first eleven. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. his magazines. is no great hardship. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. Phyllis. with rather a prominent nose. and he was nothing special. in time to come down with a handsome tip). He was excited.

he seemed to carry enough side for three." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property.portmanteau. He opened the door. but. and finally sat down." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment. Besides. He seemed about to make some remark. The other made no overtures. And here. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. and took the seat opposite to Mike. let him ask for it. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. Mike acted from the best motives. Judging by appearances. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost." "Because." "No chance of that. and at the next stop got out. He did not like the looks of him particularly. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. you know. I regret to say. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. sir. "Good business. If he wanted a magazine. instead. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. Anyhow. He was only travelling a short way. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window." "Thank you. after all." said Mike to himself. He realised in an instant what had happened. the bag had better be returned at once. . The trainwas already moving quite fast. got up and looked through the open window. which is always fatal. sir. then." "Here you are. sir. thought Mike. "Porter. lying snugly in the rack. stared at Mike again. That explained his magazineless condition. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. and wondered if he wanted anything. but. The fellow had forgotten his bag.

"I chucked it out. "Then. and the other jumped into the carriage. "The fact is. "Have you changed carriages. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. and said as much. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny. though not intentionally so. "Hullo." said Mike hurriedly. Then it ceased abruptly. Mike grinned at the recollection. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. you little beast. which did not occur for a good many miles. who happened to be in the line of fire. I say." Against his will. This was one of them." "It wasn't that." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station. "I'm awfully sorry. It hit a porter. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it." said Mike. escaped with a flesh wound." explained Mike. The head was surmounted by a bowler. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. . looking out of the window. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders." said the stranger. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. "There's nothing to laugh at." The situation was becoming difficult. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. and.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. "Don't _grin_. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. or what?" "No. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow.(Porter Robinson. What you want is a frightful kicking." The guard blew his whistle." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform. dash it." said Mike." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station." he shouted. "I thought you'd got out there for good. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway.

and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn." "Naturally. "Hullo. are you in Wain's?" he said. "I say. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past." agreed Firby-Smith. if I were in Wyatt's place. thinking he'd got out. never mind. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. holidays as well as term. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. It's bound to turn up some time. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. By the way. there you are. I say. rather lucky you've met. "It must be pretty rotten for him. Gazeka?" "Yes. I should rot about like anything. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. He grinned again." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. "I've made rather an ass of myself." said Mike. and yet they have to be together. Lots of things in it I wanted. "He and Wain never get on very well. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's." "You're a bit of a rotter. and all that sort of thing. "Oh."Hullo. He realised that school politics were being talked. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. and it's at a station miles back. It's just the sort . Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves." "Frightful. all the same." "Oh. what happened was this. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required." said Bob. He took up his magazine again. it's all right. Bob. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. then it's certain to be all right. "I swear." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. They were discussing Wain's now. I mean. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term." "I mean. Gazeka!" he exclaimed. Mike." "Frightful nuisance. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. He's in your house." said Bob. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled." "Oh. though not aggressive. They'll send it on by the next train. listening the while. Good cricketer and footballer. only he hadn't really. it's a bit thick.

it is simplicity itself. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. with a happy inspiration. and looked about him. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. They'll send your luggage on later. It was Wrykyn at last. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. and tell you all about things. Crossing the square was a short." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. leaving him to find his way for himself. and. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. Plainly a Wrykynian." he said. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. So long. Hullo. has no perplexities. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians." he concluded airily." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school." he said. and a straw hat with a coloured band. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. and it's the only Christian train they run. Probably Wain will want to see you.of life he'll hate most. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob. a blue blazer." Bob looked at Mike." Mike looked out of the window. . There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. See you later. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. To the man who knows. and lost his way. But here they were alone. all more or less straight. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. and so on. which is your dorm." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. Go straight on. "Heaps of them must come by this line. Mike. Mike made for him. Go in which direction he would. here we are. The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. I think you'd better nip up to the school. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. Silly idea. Mike started out boldly. on alighting. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers.

"Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three. "Hullo." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. "How many?" "Seven altogether. you know. shuffling. And . you know." added Mike modestly. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. then?" asked Mike. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers." "I know. "You look rather lost." said Mike awkwardly." said Mike. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays. He felt that they saw the humour in things. Only a private school. you're going to the school. "That's pretty useful. There was something singularly cool and genial about them. "Pity. You can't quite raise a team." said the other. latest model. A stout fellow. He had a pleasant. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. There's no close season for me. this is fame. are you Wyatt." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. "Oh. it was really awfully rotten bowling."Can you tell me the way to the school. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train. He's in Donaldson's. "It was only against kids. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. Any more centuries?" "Yes. please. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. square-jawed face." he said. too?" "I played a bit at my last school." "Are you there." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing." said Mike." said the stranger. So you're the newest make of Jackson. How did you know my name." "Oh. You know." said Mike.

" said Wyatt. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face. where." he said. cut out of the hill. "That's Wain's. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. That's his. Let's go in here. You come along. I was just going to have some tea." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. Look here. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground." "Oh. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. and took in the size of his new home." said Mike. "He's all right. too. Mike followed his finger. They skirted the cricket field. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's. At Emsworth. though no games were played on it. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. "I say. and formed the first eleven cricket ground. And my pater always has a pro." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. which gave me a bit of an advantage. it's jolly big. answering for himself. walking along the path that divided the two terraces.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there." said Wyatt. a beautiful piece of turf. We shall want some batting in the house this term. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer." "All the same. I know. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. a shade too narrow . thanks awfully." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. the grounds." said Mike." "Yes. He's head of Wain's. but that's his misfortune." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. everything." said Mike cautiously. down in the Easter holidays. He felt out of the picture. I believe. We all have our troubles. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. Everything looked so big--the buildings. At the top of the hill came the school. The next terrace was the biggest of all.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. "Oh.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. it is apt to throw us off our balance. years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. but Bob did not know this. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. He only knew that he had received a letter from home. Silence. "How many lumps?" "Two. "Well. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. As a rule. all right. "Thanks. and if it comes before we are prepared for it. and his conscience smote him. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster." . when they met. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him." said Mike. Bob was changing into his cricket things." "Cake?" "Thanks. if only for one performance. "Sugar?" asked Bob. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. and his batting was undeniable. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. to give him good advice. He was older than the average new boy." said Mike. Mike arrived. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. There is nothing more heady than success. It did not make him conceited. Beyond asking him occasionally. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. at school. Mike had skipped these years. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. all right"). "Oh. please.

thanks." said Bob. "I can look after myself all right. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. Only you see what I mean. "I shouldn't--I mean." said Mike cautiously. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner. "It's only this. What I mean to say is." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. Look after him! Him!! M. "Like him?" "Yes." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. "Yes. "What!" said Mike. "Oh. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal." said Bob. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience." "What do you mean?" said Mike. I'm not saying anything against you so far." he said. making things worse. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. of course. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. I'm not saying a word against you so far. filled his cup. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. You know. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. if you don't watch yourself. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. you've got on so well at cricket. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. and spoke crushingly. "He needn't trouble." he said." added Bob.Silence. "Look here. while Bob." said Mike." he said at length. Jackson. "You know. "He said he'd look after you. in the third and so on. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. "You've been all right up to now." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. outraged. I should take care what . Bob pulled himself together." said Bob. Mike.

") "Come up to my study. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after. That youth." Mike shuffled. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. (Mike disliked being called "young man. because he's leaving at the end of the term. though. young man. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. He doesn't care a hang what he does. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. He felt very sore against Bob. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. "All right." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude." Mike followed him in silence to his study. But don't let him drag you into anything. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. "I've been hearing all about you. Not that he would try to.you're doing with Wyatt. I mean. A good innings at the third eleven net." he said. I wanted to see you. But don't you go doing it. young man. spoke again. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. Thing is. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. He's that sort of chap. he's an awfully good chap. "What rot!" said Mike." "What do you mean?" "Well. I've got to be off myself. having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. I'm going over to the nets. met Mike at the door of Wain's. You'd better be going and changing. so said nothing. if you want any more tea." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. it doesn't matter much for him. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves. Don't cheek your . Stick on here a bit." said the Gazeka. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith. He's never been dropped on yet. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. of course. all spectacles and front teeth. "I promised I would." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. Don't make a frightful row in the house. "Ah.

you can't." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. He got out of bed and went to the window. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt. if he had been at home. Specially as there's a good moon. I shall be deadly." And Wyatt. with or without an air-pistol. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. He would have given much to be with him." said Wyatt. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. but with rage and all that sort of thing. but he ." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. "Hullo. as I'm morally certain to be some day. "When I'm caught. That's all. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. or night rather. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. but it was not so easy to do it. too. and hitting it into space every time. Wash. just the sort of night on which. The room was almost light. You'll find that useful when the time comes. Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. you stay where you are. but he had never felt wider awake. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. Mustn't miss a chance like this. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. Anyhow. So long. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. He sat up in bed. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt." "Are you going out?" "I am. and up to his dormitory to change. he walked out of the room. increased.elders and betters. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. and the second time he gave up the struggle. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself." said Wyatt. "Is that you. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. "No. Overcoming this feeling. It was a lovely night." "I say. he burned. would just have suited Mike's mood." he said. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. wriggled out. He opened his eyes. by a slight sound. not with shame and remorse. of wanting to do something actively illegal. Cut along. Like Eric.

consoling thought came to him. then. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. And this was where the trouble began."_ Mike stood and drained it in. The soda-water may have got into his head. Mr. as indeed he was. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. along the passage to the left. Field actually did so. All thought of risk left him. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. and an apple. As it swished into the glass. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. Mike recognised it as Mr. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. Field). He was not alarmed. _". A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging. There were the remains of supper on the table. He took some more biscuits. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood.. and there was an end of it. feeling that he was doing himself well. Everybody would be in bed. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. Food. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. one leading into Wain's part of the house. It would be quite safe. He had promised not to leave the house. he examined the room. turning up the incandescent light. Mr. A voice accompanied the banging. wound the machine up. The next moment." And. the other into the boys' section. He finished it. perhaps.. feeling a new man. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. and set it going. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house. after a few preliminary chords.realised that he was on parole. Then a beautiful. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras. To make himself more secure he locked that door. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. Down the stairs. It was quite late now. After which. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . Wain's. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone. he proceeded to look about him. This was Life. very loud and nasal. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection.

and dashed down the dark stairs. If. "He'd clear out. just in time." thought Mike. So long as the frontal attack was kept up." pondered Mike. the most exciting episode of his life. he must keep Mr. was that he must get into the garden somehow. and warn Wyatt. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. he opened the window. on entering the room. and he sat up. and found that they were after him. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. to date. The main point. breathless.need to be alarmed. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Evidently his . Then he began to be equal to it. Wain from coming to the dormitory. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. and get caught. that if Mr. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. though it was not likely. on the other hand. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. He lay there. This was good. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. J." The answer was simple. suspicion would be diverted. but he must not overdo the thing. It had occurred to him. the kernel of the whole thing. and could get away by the other. Wain. Two minutes later he was in bed. and he'd locked one door. "would A. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. His position was impregnable. And at the same time. and reflected. The handle-rattling was resumed. He stopped the gramophone. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room. "Now what. He jumped out of bed. It was open now.

with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_." . Wain hurriedly. Wain. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. and. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded." "A noise?" "A row. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. He spun round at the knock. could barely check a laugh. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure.retreat had been made just in time. catching sight of the gramophone. Wain continued to stare. "Of course not. thin man. sir. I thought I heard a noise. and went in. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. sir. sir. His hair was ruffled." "I found the window open. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. sir." said Mike. "Of course not. of course not." "Looks like it. drew inspiration from it. sir. Mr. I don't know why I asked. "_Me_. "Thought I heard a noise. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. looking out. Mike." "A noise?" "Please. "Please. Wain was a tall. All this is very unsettling. Mr. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. Wain was standing at the window. "So I came down. please. He looked about him. Jackson. He looked like some weird bird. sir!" said Mike." said Mike. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. sir. He wore spectacles. sir." If it was Mr. "What are you doing here?" said he at last. please. a row." said Mr." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. in spite of his anxiety. Mr. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. He knocked at the door.

Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him. An inarticulate protest from Mr." Mr." said Wyatt. sir." cried Mike. sir. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. Wain looked at the shrubbery. eliciting sharp howls of pain." "Perhaps you are right."He's probably in the garden. "He might be still in the house. There might be a bit of a row on his return. "Not likely. Mike stopped. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. then tore for the regions at the back. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. _"Et tu. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. as who should say. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. sir. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window. such an ass. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. you might ." said Mr. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere." Mr. "You young ass. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. He ran to the window. I know." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. ruminatively." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. Wain." "Yes. "Is that you. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. sir. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. Wain. The moon had gone behind the clouds. I mean. sir. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. He felt that all was well. His knees were covered with mould. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. Jackson. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. "Who on earth's that?" it said.

you see. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird." Mr. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. if you like. You have been seriously injured. You will do me two hundred lines." Mike clambered through the window. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. All right. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. The thing was. Well. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. but you don't understand. "Undoubtedly so. You dash along then. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas. Come in at once. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please." said Mr. Have you no sense. "You have no business to be excited. boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold." "It wasn't that. standing outside with his hands on the sill. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. "I couldn't find him. sir." "Undoubtedly. Wain. You must tread like a policeman. come in. "You're a genius. till Wain came along. Wain was still in the dining-room. It was very wrong of you to search for him." he said. You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. I'll get back. Latin and English. you might come down too. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt.' Ripping it was. so excited.at least have the sense to walk quietly. He must have got out of the garden." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. I will not have it. and I'll go back to the dining-room. I suppose. Exceedingly so. Exceedingly so" . it was rather a rotten thing to do. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster. It is exceedingly impertinent of you." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone. sir." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. "But how the dickens did he hear you." "Yes. sir. but I turned on the gramophone." "Please. "I never saw such a man." said Mike. I will not have it. "It's miles from his bedroom. Or." "That's not a bad idea.

" he said excitedly. In these circumstances." he said. preparatory to going on the river. Jackson? James. sir. It is preposterous. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. "I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. James--and you. sir. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first. one leg in the room. James. the other outside." "But the burglar. He loved to sit in this attitude. you understand me? To bed at once. I must be obeyed instantly. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. "We might catch him. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. Both of you go to bed immediately. "sir" in public. Clowes was on the window-sill." said Mike. He called Mr. "I was under the impression. "Under no circumstances whatever. You hear me.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully." said Mike. At least Trevor was in the study. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. . He yawned before he spoke." he said." They made it so. you will both be punished with extreme severity. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. Wain "father" in private. And. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. "I thought I heard a noise. getting tea ready. The question stung Mr. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. "only he has got away. and have a look round. It is possible that you mistook my meaning. I will not have boys running about my garden at night." "Shall I go out into the garden. watching some one else work. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night. of Donaldson's. Wain into active eruption once more. Mr. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. Inordinately so. hanging over space. "Stay where you are. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. sir?" said Wyatt.

' That's what I say. I have a brother myself.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. "All right. "I said. I'm thinking of Life. Cheek's what I call it. 'and he's all right. laddie. Where is he? Your brother. Not a bad chap in his way. Like the heroes of the school stories." said Clowes. "Come and help. I suppose it's fun to him. Couple of years younger than me. packing ." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. Aged fifteen. 'One Clowes is luxury. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school." "My lad. Trevor?" "One." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. Better order it to-day. I did not. but can't think of Life. Have you got any brothers. Clowes was tall. I often say to people. I mean. where is he? Among the also-rans." said Trevor." said Clowes.' At least." said Trevor. If you'd been a silly ass. I say. Hence." "You aren't doing a stroke. we shall want some more jam to-morrow." "Marlborough. Trevor was shorter. I lodged a protest. and very much in earnest over all that he did. My people wanted to send him here. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun." breathed Trevor. we see my brother two terms ago.' I say." "See it done. you'd have let your people send him here. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. as our old pal Nero used to remark. I said. 'Good chap. Tigellinus." "Too busy. Trevor. I should think. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. "One for the pot. two excess. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. and looked sad. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. That's a thing you couldn't do.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them.'" "You were right there." "That shows your sense. Trevor. But when it comes to deep thought. slicing bread. Consider it unsaid. which he was not. Did I want them spread about the school? No." "Silly ass. you slacker." "My mind at the moment.

come on. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. "Mr. considering his cricket. it's the limit. At present." "Well?" "Look here. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. he returned to his subject. It may be all right after they're left. You say Jackson's all right. loved by all who know me. with an unstained reputation. but." "Young Jackson seems all right. naturally. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct." "Why?" "Well. We were on the subject of brothers at school. If I frown----" "Oh. For once in your life you've touched the spot. I've talked to him several times at the nets. however. which is what I should do myself. But the term's hardly started yet. Now.up his little box. which he might easily do. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. and he's very decent. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. fawned upon by masters. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. but while they're there. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. as I said. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. and tooling off to Rugby. And here am I at Wrykyn. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded." said Trevor. the term's only just started. courted by boys. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. What's wrong with him? Besides." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. he is. My heart bleeds for Bob. At the end of that period. I suppose. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. revered by all who don't. so far. too. It's just the one used by chaps' people. who looks on him as no sportsman. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. In other words." "Jackson's all right. It's all right. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. what happens? He either lets the kid rip. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour." "That's just it. perhaps. It's the masters you've got to consider. Bob seems to be trying the first way. so he broods over him like a policeman." "What's up? Does he rag?" ." "What a rotten argument. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod." he said.

" "The Gazeka is a fool." "Yes. You'd only make him do the policeman business." Trevor looked disturbed." "I know. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that." "He never seems to be in extra." "I don't know. it's the boot every time. And if you're caught at that game. It's nothing to do with us. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school. that he'll be roped into it too. and does them. however. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. which he hasn't time for. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation. and."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging. . every other night. The odds are. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. He's head of Wain's. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. One always sees him about on half-holidays. Still. Besides." "If you must tell anybody. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. he's on the spot." "All front teeth and side. He's asking for trouble." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. Better leave him alone. Well. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. walking back to the house." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. tell the Gazeka. unless he leaves before it comes off. and which is bound to make rows between them. if Jackson's so thick with him. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. too. I shouldn't think so. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. anyhow. But what's the good of worrying. For instance. Let's stagger out. All I say is that he's just the sort who does. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for.

" "Not a bit. "That reminds me. I didn't mean that brother. I think I'll speak to him again. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. W. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. by Jove." ." "Oh. being in the same house. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. Why?" "It's this way." "I should. I think. "I say. but." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. Rather rot. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too. J. He'd have more chance. Bob. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. I spoke to him about it. then. Smith said he'd speak to him. That's his look out. It's his last. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day. Only he is rather mucking about this term. If Wyatt likes to risk it." "I should get blamed." "Nor do I. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. bewildered. "look here. Are you busy?" "No." "Oh. "My brother. I forgot to get the evening paper. I hear. though." "Don't blame him. all right." "I've done that. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper.He found him in his study." "I know." "Oh. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking. oiling a bat." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. you know." said Bob. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. I meant the one here. you did? That's all right. Well?" "About your brother. I say. that I know of." he said." "That's all right then." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's. sitting up.

18. when they meet. started on his Thucydides.W. I was away a lot." "Hope so. to coach you in the holidays. I expect. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. and you are standing in a shower-bath. and 51. and in an instant the place is in a ferment. he thinks. at home. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. "I thought I heard it go. and he said. I simply couldn't do a thing then." He went back to his study." "Well. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. Better than J. Henfrey'll be captain. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. for years. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. The next moment the thing has begun. even. though. when suddenly there is a hush. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. and Bob.' There's a subtle difference." said Trevor. Some trivial episode occurs. Nearly all the first are leaving. Bob. You have a pro. anyhow." "Saunders. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful." "Yes. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. I asked him what he thought of me. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. and had beaten them.s. and there falls on you from space one big drop. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. And. don't you?" "Yes. W. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. It is just the same with a row. . it's not been chucked away." "Better than at the beginning of the term. I didn't go to him much this last time. You were rather in form. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet. the pro. Pretty good for his first term. I suppose he'll get his first next year. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term." "Sort of infant prodigy. Mr.

and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. Jones. but didn't do much. I may get another shot. Rather decent. The banquet. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. and I got bowled). Low down. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. so I played. only I don't quite know where he comes in. only I'd rather it was five bob. I hope you are quite well. "Your loving son. I didn't do much. "P. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on. "P. the Surrey man. I believe he's rather sick about it.W.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. as a . 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game." And. together with the school choir. There's a dinner after the matches on O. Rot I call it. so we stop from lunch to four." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. day.--I say. The thing had happened after this fashion. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys. He's Wain's step-son. on the back of the envelope. songs. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. I wasn't in it. and half the chaps are acting. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. only they bar one another) told me about it. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two. So I didn't go in. Still. and there was rather a row. They stop the cricket on O. and 30 in a form match. Bob played for the first.W. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played.--Half-a-crown would do.P. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. and Spence). Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O.S. "MIKE. lengthened by speeches. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. could you? I'm rather broke.W. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. because they won the toss and made 215.S. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. Love to everybody. I'll find out and tell you next time I write.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. He was run out after he'd got ten. Rather rot.--Thanks awfully for your letter. On the Monday they were public property. B. I had to dive for it. He was in it all right. because I didn't get an innings. lasted.

and Wrykyn. Words can be overlooked. all might yet have been peace. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. as usual. as a rule. When. As a rule. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. It was the custom. The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. the school. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. the town. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. But there were others. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. rural type of hooliganism.rule. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. therefore. that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. This was the official programme. and turn in. and then race back to their houses. About midway between Wrykyn. Wrykyn. one's views are apt to alter. and had been the custom for generations back. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. accordingly. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. and the authorities. . it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. the town. brainless. Possibly. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. and. Risks which before supper seemed great. The school was always anxious for a row. in the midst of their festivities. and hit Wyatt on the right ear. show a tendency to dwindle. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. it was not considered worth it. till about ten o'clock. which they used. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. essentially candid and personal. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. for the honour of the school. But tomatoes cannot. In the present crisis. and that the criticisms were.

tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. except the prisoners. panting. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. now splitting up into little groups. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. Barely a dozen remained. A move was made towards the pond. They were smarting under a sense of injury. for they suddenly gave the fight up. depressed looking pond. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. It struck Wyatt. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. "Now then. By the side of the road at this point was a green. The leaders were beyond recall. while some dear friend of his. when a new voice made itself heard. now in a solid mass.There was a moment of suspense. Wyatt. but two remained. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest." he said quietly. . And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave." it said. The science was on the side of the school. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. "Let's chuck 'em in there. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. It raged up and down the road without a pause. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. at any rate at first. Gloomy in the daytime. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. But. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. it was no time for science. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. and the procession had halted on the brink. and stampeded as one man. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. and then kicks your shins. of whose presence you had no idea. it looked unspeakable at night. He very seldom lost his temper. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. The idea was welcomed gladly by all." he said.

it's an execution. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. a cheer from the launching party. "Ho. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. The prisoner did. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman." said Mr. with a change in his voice." "Stop!" From Mr."What's all this?" "It's all right. "Make 'em leave hold of us. you chaps. and suspecting impudence by instinct. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. or you'll go typhoid. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. "All right. and seized the captive by the arm." "I don't want none of your lip." said Wyatt. understanding but dimly. a lark's a lark." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. You can't do anything here. young gentleman." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. and vanished." "It's anything but a lark. A howl from the townee. The policeman realised his peril too late. but if out quick they may not get on to you. He'll have churned up a bit. He ploughed his way to the bank. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. Butt. Butt. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. Carry on. Butt. "You run along on your beat. Mr. whoever you are. and a splash compared with which . I expect there are leeches and things there." said Wyatt. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one. but you ought to know where to stop. scrambled out. you chaps. That's what we are. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. "This is quite a private matter. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. Constable Butt. going in second. Don't swallow more than you can help. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner. sprang forward. are they? Come now. a yell from the policeman. This isn't a lark. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it." "Ho!" said the policeman.

The headmaster was grave and sympathetic.the first had been as nothing. it has become world-famous. but in the present case. sir. we find Mr. Police Constable Alfred Butt. Yes. and "with them. they did. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. but both comparisons may stand. Following the chain of events. Wyatt. _Plop_!" said Mr. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. with others." "Threw you in!" "Yes." as they say in the courts of law. The tomato hit Wyatt. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. and the interested neighbours are following their example. and. Mr.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. having prudently changed his clothes. and throws away the match. Mr. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. I shall--certainly----" . Butt. and all was over. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint. But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. The imagination of the force is proverbial. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. Butt gave free rein to it. "Do you know. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). went to look for the thrower. really!" said the headmaster. before any one can realise what is happening. sir. "Threw me in. It was no occasion for light apologies. calling upon the headmaster. sir. with a certain sad relish. Butt. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire. sheets of fire are racing over the country. Butt fierce and revengeful." said Wyatt. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. "Really.

and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_." he added. Had he been a motorist. too. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. "How many boys were there?" he asked. sir! Mrs. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_." said Mr. beginning to suspect something. "I was on my beat. and I thought I heard a disturbance. They shall be punished. and I couldn't see not to say properly.' I says. They actually seized you. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. sir. "I _was_ wet. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. sir." "I have never heard of such a thing. according to discretion. constable. ''Allo. Butt promptly. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir. sir." "Good-night. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake." The headmaster's frown deepened. "Couple of 'undred. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying." "Yes. sir. Mr.' I says.' And. right from the beginning. sir. Wringin' wet. 'a frakkus. I can hardly believe that it is possible. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. As it was." concluded Mr. with the air of one confiding a secret.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. I says to myself." "H'm--Well." "Yes--Thank you. Butt. 'Why. She says to me. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here. sir. sir. I wonder?' I says. He . sir. and fighting." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely.' And. 'Wot's this all about. Butt started it again. I will look into the matter at once. again with the confidential air. Good-night." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. Lots of them all gathered together." "Yes. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. sir!" said the policeman.

And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. Only two days before the O." they had said. become public property. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. he got the impression that the school. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. which at one time had looked like being fatal. . and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. about a week before the pond episode. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. was culpable. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. The blow had fallen. it is certain--that. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school. blank. And here they were. though not always in those words. had approved of the announcement exceedingly.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. It could not understand it. always ready to stop work. It was one vast. and finally become a mere vague memory. and not of only one or two individuals. expend itself in words. he would have asked for their names. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term...W. of course. They were not malicious. "There'll be a frightful row about it. As it was. It must always. The pond affair had. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. A public school has no Hyde Park. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. I say!" Everybody was saying it. however. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. There is every probability--in fact. right in it after all. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. and the school. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. astounded "Here. which was followed throughout the kingdom. or nearly always. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. When condensed. It happened that. The school was thunderstruck. as a whole. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused.. and in private at that. but for one malcontent. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life.

" . He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. I'm not going to. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. "Well. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. He said it was a swindle. A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith." "All right. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority. on the whole. and that it was a beastly shame. as a whole. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. Wyatt was unmoved. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. Leaders of men are rare. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school.The malcontent was Wyatt. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. even though he may not approve of it. He added that something ought to be done about it. It requires genius to sway a school. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. and he was full of it. Before he came to Wyatt. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. their ironbound conservatism." "Why not?" said Wyatt. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. intense respect for order and authority. a day-boy. that it was all rot. and probably considered himself. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. a daring sort of person. and. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. and scenting sarcasm." "You're rotting.

Groups kept forming in corners apart." "I say." Another pause. An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow. and let you know." "By Jove. but. "It would be a bit of a rag. "I say. ragging barred. They couldn't sack the whole school. If the whole school took Friday off. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. I believe." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. nor could they! I say!" They walked on. they couldn't do much."No." said Neville-Smith after a pause. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC ." "You'll get sacked." "I suppose so." "I could get quite a lot. excited way." "That would be a start." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone." "All right. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. Are you just going to cut off. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. Wyatt whistling. I say. I should be glad of a little company. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's." said Wyatt. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith. what a score. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority." "Not bad. "Do.

it's just striking. of the Lower Fifth. however. I should have got up an hour later." said Brown. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. Some one might have let us know. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. The form-rooms. like the gravel.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock." "Somebody would have turned up by now.'s day row. And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. but it had its leaven of day-boys. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. came on bicycles. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. and walked to school. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning. Why. trying to get in in time to answer their names. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. "It's jolly rum. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. I can't make it out." . One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. were empty. to Brown. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. saying it was on again all right. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. A few." said Willoughby." "So do I. as a general rule. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters.W. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. the only other occupant of the form-room." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. and at three minutes to nine. rather to the scandal of the authorities. The majority of these lived in the town. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. who. "I say. I say. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. Punctuality is the politeness of princes. I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. though unable to interfere. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. whose homes were farther away. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school." "So should I. what a swindle if he did.

Perhaps. sir. A brisk conversation was going on. sir. Spence seated himself on the table. after all." "Yes. sir. we don't know. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. Spence?" Mr. He was not a house-master. Spence. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. and the notice was not brought to me. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been." "None of the boarders?" "No. sir. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are." "I've heard nothing about it. Spence pondered. and lived by himself in rooms in the town. Spence. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. "Hullo. Brown." It was the master of the Lower Fifth."Hullo. Spence told himself. "Willoughby. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. Seeing the obvious void. as he walked to the Common Room." he said. as was his habit. here _is_ somebody. The usual lot who come on bikes. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. And they were all very puzzled." Mr. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. Not a single one. Mr. We were just wondering. sir. Several voices hailed Mr. and looked puzzled." "We were just wondering." "This is extraordinary. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. as you say. sir." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. He walked briskly into the room. he stopped in his stride." Mr. there is a holiday to-day. Spence as he entered. . and a few more were standing. if the holiday had been put on again. sir. "Well.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

It was not a market-day. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet." That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. and he always ended with the words." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. "Yes. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. as generalissimo of the expedition. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. "Anything I can do for you. And the army lunched sumptuously. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. jam. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. and as evening began to fall. singing the school song. fortunately." said Wyatt." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. At Worfield the expedition lunched. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. please. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about. net practice was just coming to an end when. and apples. Private citizens rallied round with bread. faintly. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. . They descended on the place like an army of locusts. They looked weary but cheerful. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. the march home was started. And two days later. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. * * * * * At the school. In the early afternoon they rested. Other inns were called upon for help. Wyatt. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. each house claiming its representatives. As the army drew near to the school. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. with comments and elaborations. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. At the school gates only a handful were left. In addition. He always told that as his best story." the leading inn of the town. it melted away little by little. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march.his paper. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty.

"My dear chap. they didn't send in the bill right away. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. were openly exulting. "There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. It hasn't started yet. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. thought the school. There was. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. walking back to Donaldson's." said Wyatt. The school streamed downstairs. "I say. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. The less astute of the picnickers. Now for it. "Hullo. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. and gazed at him. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. marvelling. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. "this is all right. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. But it came all ." He then gave the nod of dismissal. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. speechless. What do you mean? Why?" "Well." Wyatt was damping. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. This was the announcement.Bob Jackson. isn't it! He's funked it." he said." he chuckled. I thought he would. indeed. met Wyatt at the gate." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. Finds the job too big to tackle. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement.

Rather a good thing. "I don't know what you call getting off. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." it began. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. You wait. "None of the kids are in it. and post them outside the school shop. Buns were forgotten." "Sting?" "Should think it did. It left out little. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off. Only the bigger fellows. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. He lowers all records. as they went back to the house." . The headmaster had acted. It was a comprehensive document. "he is an old sportsman. I never saw such a man. To-day. This bloated document was the extra lesson list. then?" "Rather. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked." "Do you think he's going to do something." Wyatt roared with laughter. the school sergeant." said Mike." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned." said Clowes. as he read the huge scroll. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. They surged round it. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. I was one of the first to get it. "By Gad." "Thanks." he said. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." said Mike ruefully.right." Wyatt was right. "Bates must have got writer's cramp. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. I notice." "Glad you think it funny. I'm glad you got off. who was walking a little stiffly. "What!" "Yes. He was quite fresh.

"It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. "I'm not rotting." continued Wyatt." said Mike uncomfortably. overcome. Adams. Any more? No. one of the places." "I'm not breaking down. if his fielding was something extra special. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. captain of Wrykyn cricket. really. rather. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon." "Well. if it were me." said Wyatt seriously. I thought you weren't. match. Me." "You don't think there's any chance of it." said Mike indignantly. whatever his batting was like.C." "I should be awfully sick. "Or." said Mike. was a genial giant. it isn't you. like everybody else. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. I don't blame him either. what rot!" "It is. rather. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and." "Oh. Let's see. You'll probably get my place in the team. That's next Wednesday. especially as he's a bowler himself.C." said Mike." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. buck up. "it's awfully decent of you." "You needn't rot. Still. so you're all right. Probably Druce." "An extra's nothing much. So you field like a demon this afternoon. you're better off than I am. I should think they'd give you a chance. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. Fielding especially. Ashe. But there'll be several vacancies. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. making a century in record time). Wyatt. incidentally." "I say. Anyhow. by Jove! I forgot. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot."Well." "I say. He had his day-dreams. Burgess is simply mad on fielding. The present was one of the rare . who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. "All right." * * * * * Billy Burgess. Don't break down. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. that's the lot. do you?" said Mike awkwardly.

full of strange oaths." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. Dash. shortly before lock-up. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when . I will say that for him. I was on the spot. I've dropped my stud. Besides. Bill.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all.C." "Rot. What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. "The fact is.C. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man. match went clean out of my mind. That kid's good. "Come on. He's as tall as I am." "Right ho!. jumping at his opportunity. and let's be friends." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. and drop you into the river. And I'd jump on the sack first." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. and a better field. There it is in the corner.." "Why don't you play him against the M. "He's as good a bat as his brother. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No." "I suppose he is. For a hundred and three." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully." said Wyatt. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. like the soldier in Shakespeare. "I'm awfully sorry.C. "Eight.." "You haven't got a mind. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack. in the excitement of the moment the M. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply." grumbled Burgess. That's your trouble. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked. Then he returned to the attack. he isn't small. Wyatt found him in his study. give me a kiss. as Wyatt appeared.C.

it's a bit risky. "Just give him a trial. chaps who play forward at everything.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. bottom but one. B. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age. "I'll think it over. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. "Think it over. That kid's a genius at cricket." said Wyatt. even Joe." said Wyatt. Burgess. better . His own name." "Good. gassing to your grandchildren.C. Jackson. Wyatt. wouldn't you? Very well. how you 'discovered' M." Wyatt got up. just above the W. then. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. "You know. Everything seems hushed and expectant. and you rave about top men in the second. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. "All right. The bell went ages ago. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments." Burgess hesitated. "You rotter. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. He read it." said Burgess. So long.C." Wyatt stopped for breath." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. there is a curious. Give him a shot. at Lord's. poor kids.C. Better stick to the men at the top of the second." he said. For. and his heart missed a beat. I shall be locked out." he said. CHAPTER XIII THE M." "You play him. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. was a name that leaped from the paper at him.C. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for.

Saunders?" "He is." said Saunders. the lost.after lunch. Only wants the strength. and then they'll have to put you in." "Well. I always said it.C. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. and I got one of the places." "Of course. isn't he. He could almost have cried with pure fright. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. you'll make a hundred to-day. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. sir. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out. "Got all the strokes. sir. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. "Didn't I always say it.. Hullo. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman. I'm only playing as a sub. and quite suddenly." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. He stopped short. I'm hanged! Young marvel. Saunders!" cried Mike. so that they could walk over together." he chuckled. Master Mike!" The professional beamed. "Why. Master Joe. Mike walked across from Wain's. where he had changed." said Saunders. "Isn't it ripping. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment. Three chaps are in extra. you know.C. hopeless feeling left Mike. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. when the strangeness has worn off. team came down the steps. to wait. "Why. here he is. saw him. feeling quite hollow. "By Jove." "Well. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the ." he said. as Saunders had done. Master Mike. and stopped dead." Joe took Mike by the shoulder. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. Master Mike.

"I never saw such a family. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable. was feeling just the same. . Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country.w. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses. but he contrived to chop it away. getting in front of his wicket. Bob. It was a moment too painful for words. "Aged ten last birthday. exhibiting Mike. relief came. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. conscious of being an uncertain field. Joe began to open his shoulders. tried to late-cut a rising ball. "What do you think of this?" said Joe. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. It was the easiest of slip-catches. still taking risks. Burgess was glad as a private individual. Saunders is our only bowler. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. as usual. The M." said the other with dignity. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. almost held it a second time. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. and the pair gradually settled down.C. The beginning of the game was quiet. missed it. And. The wicket was hard and true. for Joe. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. who grinned bashfully. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. At twenty. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success.C. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. but he is.C. team.C." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. just when things seemed most hopeless. For himself. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first." "This is our star. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it. and was l. The Authentic.M. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. not to mention the other first-class men. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap.b. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. and hoping that nothing would come his way. but Bob fumbled it. dropped it. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. On the other hand. You wait till he gets at us to-day. As a captain. You are only ten. and playing for the school. sorry as a captain. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip." "I _have_ won the toss. aren't you. "Probably too proud to own the relationship. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders.

Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. A comfortable. was stumped half-way through the third. and was then caught by Mike. and two hundred and fifty. Runs came with fair regularity. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. Then came lunch. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. was optimistic. the end was very near. Berridge. Four after four." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. but wickets fell at intervals. I wish I was in. "Lobs. Both batsmen were completely at home. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. a little on the slow side. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three. all round the wicket. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. The hundred went up at five o'clock. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. invincible.C." he said to Berridge and Marsh. was a thoroughly sound bat. Some years before. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. A hundred an hour is quick work. Burgess. Morris. hit two boundaries. coming in last. on the present occasion. total over the three hundred. It was a quarter to four when the innings began. and the M. the first-wicket man. "Better have a go for them. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. however. against Ripton.The school revived." said Burgess. Then Joe reached his century. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony.C. things settled down. After this. Two hundred went up. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. third-change bowlers had been put on.C. the school first pair. His second hit had just lifted the M. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. "By Jove. the hundred and fifty at half-past. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. there was scarcely time. Joe was still in at one end. to make the runs. Saunders. as usual. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. Unfortunately. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. but exceedingly hard to shift. Following out this courageous advice.C. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. and was stumped next ball.

He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. "and it's ten past six. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. having done himself credit by scoring seventy.. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. and hit the wicket. It was his turn next. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work." said Burgess. Bob Jackson went in next. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. as usual. fumbling at a glove. Lobs are the most dangerous. because they had earned it. He was jogging on steadily to his century. It was the same story to-day. Saunders. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. Twenty runs were added. Morris was still in at one end. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. At the wickets. three of them victims to the lobs.. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. "That's all you've got to do. and Mike." he added to Mike. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. and Morris. but they were distinctly envious. As a matter of fact. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. No good trying for the runs now. The bowler smiled sadly. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. all through gentle taps along the ground. Mike drew courage from his attitude. The first over yielded six runs. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. The long stand was followed. For a time things went well. five wickets were down. by a series of disasters." All!. And that was the end of Marsh. Stick in. He had refused to be tempted. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead. and get the thing over. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. In the second. He wished he could stop them. At last he arrived. letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. Bob. as if he hated to have to do these things. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. He knew his teeth were chattering. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. he felt better. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. . and a thin. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. tottered out into the sunshine. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. seemed to give Morris no trouble. insinuating things in the world.

just the right distance away from the off-stump. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. besides being conscientious. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. skips and the jump. The next moment the dreams had come true.. it was Mike's first appearance for the school.. It was a half-volley. "Play straight. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. Sometimes a drive. and you can't get out. He felt equal to the situation." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. All nervousness had left him. If so. "To leg. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. Now. moment Mike felt himself again. wryly but gratefully. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. Saunders was beginning his run. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. On the other hand. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. the school was shouting. and Saunders. did not disturb him. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. doubtless. "Don't be in a funk. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew." It was Joe. and bowled. Half-past six chimed. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. The moment had come. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. he failed signally. Burgess came in. Mike grinned. and. . who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. sometimes a cut." said the umpire. Mike would have liked to have run two. Saunders was a conscientious man. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. but he himself must simply stay in." said a voice. There was only Reeves to follow him.. but always a boundary. which he hit to the terrace bank. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. Even the departure of Morris. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over. Burgess continued to hit. The bowling became a shade loose. and invariably hit a boundary. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. sir.

C. fast left-hand. They might mean anything from "Well. Down on it again in the old familiar way. at any rate as far . and we have our eye on you. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. match. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. at the last ball. just failed to reach it. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. Joe. Five: another yorker. He hit out. It hummed over his head. "I'm sorry about your nose. "You are a promising man. of the School House. and Mike got his place in the next match. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him. That meant. Mike played it back to the bowler. "I'll give him another shot. were not brilliant cricketers. You won't get any higher." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. the visiting team.C. Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you." But Burgess. First one was given one's third eleven cap." said the wicket-keeper. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap." Mike was a certainty now for the second. here you are. Four: beat him." said Wyatt. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. Unfortunately for him. dropped down into the second. and mid-off." Then came the second colours. against the Gentlemen of the County. so you may as well have the thing now.The lob bowler had taken himself off. But it was all that he expected. however gentlemanly." said Burgess. "I told you so. to Burgess after the match." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. jumping. who had played twice for the first eleven. "nothing. and missed the wicket by an inch. Mike let it alone. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. this may not seem an excessive reward. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. "What's wrong with it?" "At present. "He's not bad. as many a good man had done before him. Number two: yorker. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. naturally. * * * * * So Wilkins. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. as has been pointed out. almost at a venture. All was well.

and Wain's were playing Appleby's. mind you don't go getting swelled head. and was then caught at cover. He was enjoying life amazingly. this score did not show up excessively. Mike pounded it vigorously. It happened in this way. match. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. bursting with fury. Ellerby. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings.C. when the Gazeka.C. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him." he shouted. See? That's all. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. supported by some small change. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him. Morris making another placid century. and was thoroughly set. making twenty-five. House matches had begun. and. as the star. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. "Well. he waxed fat and kicked. Mike went in first wicket. having the most tender affection for his dignity. The school won the toss. but Firby-Smith. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. He had made seventeen. "Come on. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. was captain of the side.as bowling was concerned. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. with Raikes. "you played a very decent innings this afternoon. _verbatim_. made a fuss. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. Run along. went in first. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. who had the bowling. The following. and Marsh all passing the half-century. For some ten minutes all was peace. Raikes possessed few subtleties. Bob. prancing down the pitch. eh? Well. and he and Wyatt went in first. of the third eleven. and Berridge. Then Wain's opened their innings. to the detriment of Mike's character." Mike departed. . as head of the house. did better in this match. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. The Gazeka. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. not out. hit one in the direction of cover-point. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. To one who had been brought up on Saunders." he said.

cover having thrown the ball in. Firby-Smith arrived. and lick him. "Don't _laugh_. Burgess. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel.Mike. Burgess." . "It isn't funny. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner." Burgess looked incredulous. feeling now a little apprehensive. avoided him. And Mike. a prefects' meeting. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. chewing the insult. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. Mike's shaft sank in deeply." he said. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. he was also sensitive on the subject. "I want to speak to you. miss it. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees." he said reprovingly. thought Firby-Smith. "You know young Jackson in our house. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting." he said. The world swam before Mike's eyes. "What's up?" said Burgess. a man of simple speech. besides being captain of the eleven. Firby-Smith did not grovel. you know." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. And only a prefects' meeting. shouting "Run!" and. you grinning ape!" he cried." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. These are solemn moments. "Easy run there. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face. "Rather a large order." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. At close of play he sought Burgess. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. was also head of the school. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused.

. Bob occurred to him."Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. "Yes. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. "Rather thick. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. Geddington." said Firby-Smith. but he thought the thing over.C. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler. I'll think it over. Still. were strong this year at batting. therefore." he said meditatively.C. and Bob's name did not appear on that list. but turned the laugh into a cough. On the other hand. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team. I mean--A prefects' meeting. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. anyhow. he's a decent kid." And the matter was left temporarily at that. Bob was one of his best friends. And here was another grievance against fate. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. look here. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be." "Oh. In the first place. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. the results of the last few matches. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. as the nearest of kin. In the second place. Here was he." "He's frightfully conceited. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. and let you know to-morrow. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. and particularly the M. It was only fair that Bob should be told. "Well. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. Besides. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. match. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. Burgess started to laugh. It became necessary. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. with the air of one uttering an epigram. well--Well.

You know how to put a thing nicely." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. handsome chap." said Bob." he said. It's rather hard to see what to do. can't you? This is me. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. "Still----" "I know. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. Have some?" "No. Mike was good. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. "Personally. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess." . dark. I sympathise with the kid. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. and Neville-Smith. I want to see you. but he _is_ an ass. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand." he added. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka. you know. look here. The tall." suggested Burgess. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. "Silly young idiot. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study." "I suppose so. sitting over here. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely.' Billy." "It's awfully awkward. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry." continued Burgess gloomily. thanks." "Well. but in fielding there was a great deal. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. "Still. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. I say. you can. one's bound to support him. So out Bob had gone. "Hullo. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith.and put the temptation sturdily behind him. the captain. the man. He came to me frothing with rage. Bob?" he asked. "Sickening thing being run out. Bob was bad. took his place. "Take a pew. Bob. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. "Busy.

you know. "Well."Awful rot. "I that sort. apart from everything else. though. "Burgess was telling me." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room. you know. nothing--I mean." emended the aggrieved party. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith." he said. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. Seeing Bob. By now he'll have simmered down a bit. Bob. you're a pal of his. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. "Look here. "I say. I tell you what." It was a difficult moment for Bob. You must play the the old Gazeka over." he said. "Yes?" "Oh. But he recovered himself. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now. aren't you? Well. "You see it now. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. made him waver. would it be." he said. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. I know. He gets right way. I don't know. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. you're not a bad sort. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. is there? I mean. Not much good lugging the prefects into it. "Don't do that. He had a great admiration for Bob." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this." said Bob. One cannot help one's thoughts. I'm a prefect. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team. go and ask him to drop the business. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. Look here. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. having to sit there and look on. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. "I thought you hadn't. "I didn't think of you. not much of a catch for me. You know. too. "I wanted to see you." he said." . He wants kicking. he became all animation. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out." said Bob.

and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house."Well. of Donaldson's. Curiously enough. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn. I think if I saw him and cursed him. of course. "I say. "I'm specially glad for one reason. it was frightful cheek. and the offensively forgiving." said Burton. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. he. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. Mike. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. without interest. in the course of his address. though without success. Reflection. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. and unburdened his soul to him. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. and Burton felt revengeful. and owed him many grudges. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. He was not inclined to be critical. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. Firby-Smith. I did run him out. All right then. He wished he could find some way of repaying him. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. fourteen years of age. he gave him to understand. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention." "Thanks." "What's that?" inquired Mike. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind." "Of course it was. really. He was a punctured balloon. But for Bob. And. he felt grateful to Bob. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. Mike's all right. After all." "Yes. . It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit." "Thanks. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. you know. most of all." said Bob. there's that." and Bob waving them back. so subdued was his fighting spirit. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. and went to find Mike. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek." said Mike." "No. Still.

He tapped with his right hand. Beastly bad luck. but several times. just before lock-up. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. weighing this remark. though. so that Burton. Be all right." said Mike. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition. for his left was in a sling." "Hope so. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8. On the evening before the Geddington match. CHAPTER XVI . yes. rather." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. retiring hurriedly. some taint. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. "I've crocked my wrist a bit." said Mike stolidly. Burgess. They were _all_ beasts.54 next morning." "Thanks. I suppose?" "Oh. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door." "I say. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. He'd have been playing but for you. and his decision remained unaltered. and gradually made up his mind. in a day or two. as it were. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. anyway." And Burgess. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. * * * * * Mike walked on. He kicked Burton. too. Not once or twice. He thought the thing over more fully during school. We wanted your batting. that's bad luck." At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. "Come in!" yelled the captain. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob." "Good-night. Good-night. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much.

" "Why aren't you--Hullo." "Never mind. and. It doesn't matter a bit. Uncle John. I'll have a look later on. Now. He had thereupon left the service. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. and. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. at the request of Mike's mother. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. mainly in Afghanistan. Coming south. thanks.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. I didn't see." "I could manage about that. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. "School playing anybody to-day. There's a second match on. ." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect." "Doctor seen it?" "No. Somebody ought to look at it. Only it's away. Be all right by Monday. His telegram arrived during morning school. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life." "They're playing Geddington. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things." "Hurt?" "Not much. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. Still. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round. after an adventurous career. Mike? I want to see a match. what shall we do. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another." "H'm. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. But it's really nothing. It's nothing much. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. really. I think I should like to see the place first. "It isn't anything.

but he choked the feeling down." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. I didn't know that. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school." "Still." "For the first? For the school! My word. Very nice. He's in the School House. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. I see." two or three times in an absent voice. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said. swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. They look as if they were getting set. but I thought that was only as a substitute. they'll probably keep him in. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. But I wish I ." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. and done well. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. A sudden. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. "Ah yes. "That's Trevor. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. and better do it as soon as possible. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. it was this Saturday. it's Bob's last year. "If he does well to-day." said Mike. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven. I've got plenty of time. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him. "Chap in Donaldson's. I was playing for the first." he said enviously. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. as Trevor. There are only three vacancies. It was a glorious day. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. What bad luck. Of course. that.Got to be done. Neville-Smith." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded. if he does well against Geddington. The thing was done." "Rather awkward. By Jove. I should think. by George!" remarked Uncle John. Then there'll be only the last place left. and they passed on to the cricket field. Mike." Uncle John detected the envious note. No wonder you're feeling badly treated.

unskilful stroke. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. Can you manage with one hand? Here." "Pull your left. let me--Done it? Good. When you get to my age you need it." "Rotten trick for a boy. I wonder how Bob's got on. "Let's just call at the shop. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting. The next piece of shade that you see. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds. They got up. "The worst of a school. caught a crab. sing out. "Geddington 151 for four." said Mike. then gave it a little twist." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games." stammered Mike. Which reminds me. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. Mike?" "No. Let's have a look at the wrist. "Put the rope over that stump. Mike was crimson. recovered himself. "It's really nothing. "Ye--no. "That willow's what you want.could get in this year." said Mike. The telegram read." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage." "Not bad that. . He could hear nothing but his own breathing." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself." said Uncle John." he began. "I hope you don't smoke." said Mike. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. Uncle John looked up sharply. as he pulled up-stream with strong. Lunch. I badly want a pipe. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches." After they had watched the match for an hour. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. but his uncle had already removed the sling. A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. and we'll put in there. and sighed contentedly. "That hurt?" he asked." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes.

" . What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. It wasn't that. one may as well tell the truth.. "May as well tell me. really. on. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign. so I thought I might as well let him. "I know." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. I was nearly asleep. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. "Jove. That's how it was. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. where his fate was even now being sealed. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. I won't give you away. Mike said nothing. I think. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington." Uncle John was silent. let his mind wander to Geddington.. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. gaping." When in doubt. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. swear you won't tell him. Mike told it. dash it all then.. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact. Lock-up's at half-past. It had struck him as neat and plausible. (This. would they give him his cap? Supposing." "I ought to be getting back soon. There was an exam. Only----" "Well?" "Oh. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Look here. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes. while Mike. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday.) "Swear you won't tell him. well. and his uncle sat up. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations." "I won't tell him.

only they wouldn't let me. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. It was a longer message this time. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand. "It was simply baking at Geddington. "By Jove. I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever. I wanted to go to sleep. Mike pushed his way through the crowd." Wyatt began to undress. thanks." he added carelessly. as they reached the school gates. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. "We won. then."Up with the anchor. How's your wrist?" "Oh. Uncle John felt in his pocket. better. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets." He paused for a moment." said Mike. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. . He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. Don't fall overboard. and rejoined his uncle. It was the only possible reply. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. Marsh 58." "There'll be another telegram. eh? We are not observed. I'm done. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "Well?" said Uncle John." he said. "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. "Bob made forty-eight. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets." Mike worked his way back through the throng. Neville-Smith four). and they ragged the whole time. I'm going to shove her off. Jackson 48). I should think.

did he field badly?" "Rottenly. reviewing the match that night. Only one or two thirds. with watercress round it. he would get insomnia. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . Beastly man to bowl to. too. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. With great guile he had fed this late cut. Ripping innings bar those two chances. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. He let their best man off twice in one over. off Billy."No. he felt. Chap had a go at it. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. He was very fond of Bob." Burgess. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. to-day. though. Bit of luck for Bob. Just lost them the match. I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. No first. Jenkins and Clephane. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. Bob puts them both on the floor. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. and another chap. Their umpire. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. I was in at the other end. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that. If he dwelt on it. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. A bit lucky. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. as he lay awake in his cubicle." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. when he does give a couple of easy chances. can't remember who." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs. Never saw a clearer case in my life." "Most captains would have done. And." "Why. Soothed by these memories. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate. had come to much the same conclusion. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. he fell asleep.

where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. I believe I should do better in the deep. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . About your fielding. "Look here. "It's those beastly slip catches." The conversation turned to less pressing topics. I know that if a catch does come. I could get time to watch them there. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. Among these was one Leather-Twigg. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street." "Do you know. As for Mike." "All right then. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. I can't time them. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. I'm certain the deep would be much better. he played for the second. Both of them were." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom. I shall miss it. Bob. It's simply awful." "I know. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. This did not affect the bulk of the school. I hate the slips. I'm frightfully sorry. * * * * * In the next two matches. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. found his self-confidence returning slowly. I'll practise like mad. Trevor'll hit me up catches. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. drop by drop." "Well." "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. Try it. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. as he stood regarding the game from afar. but I mean.chance of reforming. and hoped for the day. Bob. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. accordingly. Bob figured on the boundary. of Seymour's." Bob was all remorse.

the doctor was recommending that Master John George. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. too. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. where he read _Punch_. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. Essentially a man of moods. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. but people threw cushions at him. disappeared from Society. and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. The professional advice of Dr. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. and thought of Life. of the first eleven. and returned to the school. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. entering the High Street furtively. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. at the same moment. would be Shoeblossom. G. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). he was attending J. and. the school doctor. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. Two days later Barry felt queer. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. however necessary such an action might seem to him. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. Oakes. who was top of the school averages. and also. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. and at the bottom of the heap. In brief. and in the dingy back shop. was called for. Shoeblossom. He had occasional headaches. what was more important. Upstairs. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the ." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. He tried the junior day-room. peace. Where were his drives now. He made his way there. The next victim was Marsh. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. Shoeblossom came away. He tried out of doors. Marsh. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum.Quiet Student. the son of the house. He. On the Tuesday afternoon. sucked oranges. for chicken-pox. squealing louder than any two others.

The weather may have had something to do with it. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. I've got the taste in my mouth still. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. when Wain's won the footer cup. made a dozen. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. And I can square them. for no apparent reason. doubled this. But on this particular day. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. and after that the rout began. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. batting first on the drying wicket. Some schools do it in nearly every match.elect. Bob." . "Well. and Mike kept his end up. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. I remember. who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. too. and the school. Have to look after my digestion. All sorts of luxuries. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. going in fourth wicket. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. and ate that. but nobody except Wyatt. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. and I'm alone. for Neville-Smith. for rain fell early in the morning. did anything to distinguish himself. they failed miserably. bar the servants. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. Too old now. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. and was not out eleven. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. His food ran out. batting when the wicket was easier. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. and the Incogniti. They had only been beaten once. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago. The total was a hundred and seven. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. three years ago. Got through a slice. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti.

In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. passed him the bread. But young Mike's all over him as a bat."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when." "You were all right. of course. When he had finished. and sat down. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season. I don't know. being older. Bob. I can't say more than that. We've all been at Wrykyn. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "Bit better. Still. He's bound to get in next year. was more at his ease." Mike stared. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly. He got tea ready." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. "Not seen much of each other lately. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. though. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's. one wants the best man." continued Bob. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. of course. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. he would just do it. Why? What about?" . yes. he poured Mike out a cup. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. Mike. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. Not that it matters much really whether I do now. Pity to spoil the record." "Oh. Beastly awkward. making desultory conversation the while. "because it is. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period." "You get on much better in the deep.

's like a sounding-board. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act.' he said. rot. I waited a bit to give them a good start. I'm simply saying what I think. Congratulate you. The pav." Mike looked at the floor. and in a year or two. It's the fortune of war. and then sheered off myself. of course. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. of course. sir. sir?' Spence said. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. There was nothing much to _be_ said. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped. "Not at all.'" "Oh. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval. and now he had achieved it. sir." said Mike. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. What do you think. I heard every word. I've a sort of idea our little race is over. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle. just now. and said nothing.' said old Bill. awfully. but. to shake his hand. I'm jolly glad it's you. I fancy you've won. As it isn't me. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. and that's what he's there for. 'That's just what I think." resumed Bob. 'Well.' 'Yes. he's cricket-master.. Well. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. and so on. And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. He's a shade better than R. there'll be no comparison." It was the custom at Wrykyn. and tore across to Wain's. After all. '_I_ think M. but don't feel bound to act on it. Billy said. 'Well. They thought the place was empty. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. 'I don't know what to do. And so home. on the other hand. wiping the sweat off his forehead. 'Decidedly M." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. It had been his one ambition. don't let's go to the other extreme.' said Spence. I was in the pav. . I'll give you my opinion. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. They shook hands. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful. He was sorry for Bob. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. I couldn't help hearing what they said." muttered Mike. "Well.' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. what I wanted to see you about was this. now. 'It's rough on Bob. Burgess. Bob. Spence said. Billy agreed with him. "Thanks. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. and I picked it up and started reading it. So Mike edged out of the room."Well. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. in the First room.

"All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. orders were orders. and this silent alarm proved effective. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team. and a little more. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been. It would have to be done. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. This was to the good." "Oh. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. a prospect that appealed to him. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. Until he returned. was not. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton. dash it. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. he found that it was five minutes past six. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. . Reaching out a hand for his watch. Mike could tell nobody. as it always does. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. And Wyatt was at Bisley. therefore. It wouldn't do. As he passed it." said Mike. even on a summer morning. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. Still. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night. F. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels.--W. He took his quarter of an hour. "what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep.30 to-morrow morning. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board.-S. he felt.

The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. and glared. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. yes. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. "look here. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. Mike thought he would take another minute. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. looking at him. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. The painful interview took place after breakfast. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. And outside in the cricket-field. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. being ordered about. and jolly quick. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. Now he began to waver. I want to know what it all means. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. inconvenienced--in short. Make the rest of the team fag about." he said. he felt. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. One knows that delay means inconvenience. Who _was_ he. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. Here was he. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. he said to himself. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. he asked himself. Didn't you see the notice?" . dash it all. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice. "Young Jackson. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. One would have felt. But logic is of no use. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time. Was this right. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. in coming to his den. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. that Mike. It was time. One simply lies there. and waited. by the way. would be bad enough. But not a chap who. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again.

you do. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. and I've seen it coming on. That's got nothing to do with it. you went to sleep again. It was not according to his complicated. "What time did you wake up?" "Six." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. You think the place belongs to you. The point is that you're one of the house team.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. this." "Oh. but he rather fancied not. That's what you've got. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE." said the Gazeka shrilly. Just because you've got your second. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass. "Yes. "Do--you--see. Frightful swelled head. I've had my eye on you for some time. You go siding about as if you'd bought it." "I don't. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. turn up or not. "Then you frightful kid. you think you can do what you like. Awfully embarrassing. as you please. Happy thought: over-slept himself. See?" Mike said nothing. He mentioned this." said Mike indignantly. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. You've got swelled head. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first." said Mike. just listen to me. "Six!" "Five past. young man. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. The rather large grain of truth in what . and I'm captain of it. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. did you? Well. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed.

as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. "Do you see?" he asked again. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. Mike's jaw set more tightly. and I suppose it always will be. Wyatt was worn out. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. water will do. Failing that. "Oh. Always at it. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. I'll go down and look. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. He set his teeth. and his feelings were hurt. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. which had put him in a very good humour with the world.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. and surveyed Mike. I didn't hit the bull every time. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. brandishing a jug of water and a glass. but cheerful. full of the true. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton." He left the dormitory. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. Wyatt came back. for a beaker full of the warm south. "What's your trouble?" he asked." he said. "That's the cats. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back. Very heady. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. What one really wants here is a row of stars. If it's a broken heart. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. Well. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar. Zam-buk's what you want. A-ah!" He put down the glass." . He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. as he had nearly done once before. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. and stared at a photograph on the wall.

Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it. There are some things you simply can't do. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were ." "I mean." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed. a word in your ear. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator." said Mike morosely. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. you'll have a rotten time here. look here. my gentle che-ild." "In passing. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow. drew a deep breath. you stick it on. but. I defy any one to.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment. "Nothing like this old '87 water." "I like you jawing about discipline. "I say. I don't know." "Why?" "I don't know. putting down the jug." he said. "And why." "No. silent natures. while I get dropped on if I break out. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. The speaker then paused. If he's captain. and say. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. you've got to obey him." "What! Why?" "Oh. and.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. blood as you are at cricket. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. Otherwise."He said I stuck on side. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. "Such body. that 'ere is. He winked in a friendly way. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. 'Talking of side. It's too early in the morning." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding. 'Jackson. Cheers from the audience. really. That's discipline. You stick on side." "I didn't turn up. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. and. but his eyes stared fixedly from above it.

Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side." Mike made no reply. In this way. That night. would go down before Wilborough. Eton. Harrow. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. About my breaking out. accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. having beaten Ripton. Geddington. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups.saying--just so. I don't know why. as far as games are concerned. His feelings were curiously mixed. "me. Wrykyn. There was no actual championship competition. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. But this did not happen often. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. but it generally did. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. Ripton. really meant. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. but each played each. most forms of law and order. rather. He would have perished rather than admit it. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. When you're a white-haired old man like me. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. or. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. That was the match with Ripton. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. the other you mustn't ever break. . and Wilborough formed a group. Dulwich. I thank you. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. of which so much is talked and written. but it isn't done. Until you learn that. or Wrykyn. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. Paul's are a third. if possible. and St. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. before the Ripton match. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules." he concluded modestly. Haileybury. If Wyatt. cheerful disregard of. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. young Jackson. Tonbridge. for the first time in his life. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches.

and he had done well in the earlier matches. But. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. and he hated to have to do it. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. As it was. Bob got to it with one hand. and Mr. and biz is biz. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. he postponed the thing. and kep' in a sepyrit jug." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Spence. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing. Finally he had consulted Mr. "Pleasure is pleasure. In case of accident. The report was more than favourable. After all. And. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. . From small causes great events do spring. the sorrier he was for him. and held it. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. With him at short slip. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. * * * * * When school was over.Burgess." said Burgess. accordingly. and sprint. The more he thought of it. It was a difficult catch. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. He had fairly earned his place. there was a week before the match. engrossed in his book. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. feeling that life was good. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. He could write it after tea. as the poet has it. but he was steady. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. he would have kept Bob In. Spence had voted for Mike. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. One gave him no trouble. There were two vacancies. If he could have pleased himself. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer. "Well held. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money.

It was decidedly a blow. "You're hot stuff in the deep. it may be mentioned." "Good. "This way for Iron Wills. on being told of Mike's slackness. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. What hard luck it was! There was he. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. He suppressed his personal feelings." said the Gazeka. He'll be able to play on Saturday." said Bob awkwardly."Hullo." There was. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself. did not enter his mind. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. and all the time the team was filled up. Firby-Smith. and so he proceeded to tell ." "I've just been to the Infirmary. There are many kinds of walk. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. "I couldn't get both hands to it. but it's all right. He was glad for the sake of the school. nothing. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again." he explained. as who should say." "Easy when you're only practising. of course. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast. hoping he had said it as if he meant it. "What's up?" inquired Burgess." "Oh. Burgess passed on. "Young Jackson. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. It was the cricket captain who. but one has one's personal ambitions. his mind full of Bob once more. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house." said Bob. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. do you mean? Oh. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. and became the cricket captain again. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. That Burgess would feel. in fact. towards the end of the evening. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton.

Bob had beaten him on the tape. As he stared. met Bob coming in. Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. Bob stared after him. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. Bob. and passed on. He looked at the paper. therefore. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. going out. Bob. "Congratulate you. "Hard luck!" said somebody. Mike scarcely heard him. * * * * * When. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. Since writing was invented. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess." he said. "Congratulate you. that looked less like an M. there had never been an R. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. Trevor came out of the block. hurrying. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. as he was rather late.it in detail. There was no possibility of mistake. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . than the one on that list. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him.

No reason why he shouldn't. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. "Congratulate you. next year seems a very. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. came down the steps. It'll be something to do during Math. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's." said Mike. it's jolly rummy." "My--what? you're rotting. Mike. Here it is. They moved slowly through the cloisters. This was no place for him." Bob endeavoured to find consolation. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. I'm not. You've got your first." "Hope so. "Thanks awfully. Go and look. "Anyhow. I showed you the last one. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably. "Jolly glad you've got it. you'll have three years in the first. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings." "Thanks. if you want to read it. Trevor moved on." said Bob. with equal awkwardness. feeling very ill. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation." said Mike. for next year. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument." "Well. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike." . You're a cert. "I believe there's a mistake." he said awkwardly. Bob. as the post was late. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. "Got a letter from mother this morning. delicately. very long way off." "No. Not much in it. There was a short silence." The thing seemed incredible. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. When one has missed one's colours. Just then. and Burgess agree with him. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. neither speaking. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears."Seen what?" "Why the list.

but followed. for the first time in her life. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed. A brief spell of agony. somebody congratulated Bob again. He seemed to have something on his mind. "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate." "No. Bob appeared curiously agitated. and which in time disappears altogether. with some surprise. "Hullo. I'll give it you in the interval. sitting up and taking nourishment. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. but it was lessened. as it were. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. seeing that the conversation was . Haven't had time to look at it yet." "After you. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. As they went out on the gravel. and went up to the headmaster. These things are like kicks on the shin. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. there appeared on his face a worried. Mike was. I'll show it you outside. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it. and Mike noticed. seeing Mike. it's for me all right. that. he stopped. Mike heard the words "English Essay. "What's up?" asked Mike. too." Mike resented the tone." he said." and.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. The disappointment was still there. "Read that."Marjory wrote. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. and. He looked round. "Got that letter?" "Yes. even an irritated look." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. When they had left the crowd behind." said Mike amiably." "Why not here?" "Come on.

She was a breezy correspondent." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document. She was jolly sick about it. it . lead up to it. Phyllis has a cold. Reggie made a duck. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. I am quite well. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. with a style of her own.-"I hope you are quite well.apparently going to be one of some length. under the desk. and display it to the best advantage. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. capped the headmaster and walked off.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. but usually she entertained rather than upset people. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire.P.--This has been a frightful fag to write. and it's _the_ match of the season. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. "P. I told her it served her right. Bob had had cause to look worried." There followed a P. Well. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you.S. it will be all through Mike. "I'll tell you what you ought to do. He put the missive in his pocket. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter. He read it during school.S. Why don't you do that? "M. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. and ceased to wonder. Have you got your first? If you have.

Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way." he broke off hotly." . "How do you mean?" said Mike. Besides. Bob couldn't do much." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. You know. I suppose I am. The team was filled up. that's how it was. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all. So it came out. is it all rot." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. you did _me_ a jolly good turn." Bob stared gloomily at his toes.. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter." "Well. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. and Burgess was not likely to alter it.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. it was beastly awkward. I don't know. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh. Still.. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. but she had put her foot right in it. He came down when you were away at Geddington. "I mean. "Well?" said Bob. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. and would insist on having a look at my arm. They met at the nets. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow." he said at last. "I did. "Did you read it?" "Yes. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. and all that.. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. "Of course. "I know I ought to be grateful. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything." "I didn't think you'd ever know. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out." said Mike. I couldn't choke him off. Marjory meant well. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. he might at least have whispered them. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. If he was going to let out things like that.

The sensible man realises this. when he awoke. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. "Well. and it grew so rapidly that. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. When?" "That Firby-Smith business. "Besides." "Oh." He sidled off. When affairs get into a real tangle. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race. Others try to grapple with them. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play. He thought he would go home. finding this impossible. "Well." Which he did. but the air was splendid and the view excellent. Or. and happened to doze."I don't remember. I decide to remain here. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will. but it never does any good. He looked helplessly at Mike. simply to think no more about them. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light. sixty feet from the ground." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair." Mike said. admitting himself beaten." added Mike. who sat down on an acorn one day. but. well. . The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. This is Philosophy. and slides out of such situations. "I must see Burgess about it. anyhow. if one does not do that. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. "I shall get in next year all right. he altered his plans. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. "Anyhow. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. Half a second." he said." "What about it?" "Well. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. and had a not unpleasant time." "I'm hanged if it is. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave." said Bob to himself. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. it's all over now. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny.

if they are to be done at school. though.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. of course. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative. At which period he remarked a rum business. Besides. Tell you what. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders." said Bob. might find some way of making things right for everybody." Bob agreed. in it. "Still. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. Though. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head." . if possible. I don't know if it's occurred to you. Bob should have done so. but why should you do anything? You're all right. after Mike's fashion. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself. what you say doesn't help us out much. And Burgess. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. seeing that the point is. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. confessed to the same to solve the problem. now it's up. and here you _are_." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. It's not your fault. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry." "I do. like the man in the oak-tree. You simply keep on saying you're all right. "But I must do something. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. These things. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. I could easily fake up some excuse. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. It would not be in the picture. what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. and took the line of least resistance. "I suppose you can't very well. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. have to be carried through stealthily. It's me. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field. Very sporting of your brother and all that. Imitate this man. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. consulted on the point. in council. at the moment. He would have done a good deal to put matters right.

I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. so out he went. So you see how it is." "I'll tell you what you look like. As the distance between them lessened. whatever happens. as the Greek exercise books say." said Neville-Smith. That slight smile of yours will meet behind."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "Mind the step. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress. he did tell me. but a slack field wants skinning. thanks for reminding me. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours. At any rate. if that's any good to you. "Thanks. He's a young slacker. and improved your fielding twenty per cent. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind." "Well. A bad field's bad enough." "Anyhow. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his." "I don't care. if you don't look out. If you really want to know. I've got my first. I feel like--I don't know what. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. and then the top of your head'll come off." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that." said Burgess. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. So long." "Oh. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board.. but supposing you had. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. Not that you did. Wyatt. all right. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. expansive grin. with a brilliant display of front teeth. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face." "He isn't so keen. You sweated away. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets." "Smith oughtn't to have told you." said Bob.

I'll try to do as little damage as possible. Clephane is." "But one or two day-boys are coming. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. I expect. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough." "Good man." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. I shall manage it. for goodness sake. And Beverley. anyhow it's to-night. You can roll up. Heave a pebble at it. Anything for a free feed in these hard times. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. Still. Still. I'm going to get the things now." "The race is degenerating. It's just above the porch." "You _will_ turn up." "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make. After all. if you like." "Yes. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. All the servants'll have gone to bed. You'll see the window of my room. for one. and I'll come down.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. which I have--well." "No." "So will the glass--with a run. It'll be the only one lighted up. We shall have rather a rag. I get on very well. a sudden compunction seized upon .to have at home in honour of my getting my first." "Said it wasn't good enough. if I did. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. I needn't throw a brick. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. They all funked it." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. nor iron bars a cage. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven." As Wyatt was turning away. Make it a bit earlier." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people." "The school is going to the dogs. can't you?" "Delighted. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. eleven'll do me all right.

They've no thought for people's convenience here. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. If so." "Don't go getting caught. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first. I've used all mine. getting back. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. I've got to climb two garden walls. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that." "I shall do my little best not to be. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night.Neville-Smith. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. I should have gone out anyhow to-night. that's all right. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. "but this is the maddest. APPLEBY "You may not know it. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. and the wall by the . I shall probably get bitten to the bone. Ginger-beer will flow like water." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. we must make the best of things. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. though. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp. "Don't you worry about me. you always are breaking out at night. do you? I mean. Rather tricky work. All you have to do is to open the window and step out." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR." "Oh." said Wyatt. No expense has been spared." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. "What's up?" he asked. but he did not state his view of the case. Still." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. He called him back. I don't know if he keeps a dog. "I say. merriest day of all the glad New Year. you don't think it's too risky.

He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. but the room had got hot and stuffy.potting-shed was a feline club-house. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. Appleby. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. he climbed another wall. Wain's. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. Much better have flowers. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. They were all dark. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. Why not. From here he could see the long garden. The window of his study was open. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. It was a glorious July night. it is true. ran lightly across it. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. Then he decided on the latter. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. He was fond of his garden. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. and was in the lane within a minute. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. whatever you did to it. and get a decent show for one's money in . but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. This was the route which he took to-night. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. Crossing this. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. the master who had the house next to Mr. true. for instance. At present there remained much to be done. sniffing as he walked. dusted his trousers. which had suffered on the two walls. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good. and let himself out of the back door. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. He was in plenty of time. "What a night!" he said to himself. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. There he paused. There was a full moon. Appleby. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. and it was a long way round to the main entrance.

There was nothing unsporting about Mr. He receives a salary for doing this duty. Mr. and indirectly. He paused. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. Breaking out at night. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. treat it as if it had never happened. As he dropped into the lane. Appleby. to the parents. it was not serious. liked and respected by boys and masters. Appleby had left his chair. It was not an easy question. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. of course. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. and. bade him forget the episode. however. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. with the aid of the moonlight. without blame. through the headmaster. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. . on hands and knees. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. but he may use his discretion. He went his way openly. he had recognised him. close his eyes or look the other way. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. Sentiment. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. wondering how he should act. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. Appleby. He knew that there were times when a master might. Appleby that first awoke to action. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. and rose to his feet. Appleby smoothed over the cavities. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. examining. and remember that he is in a position of trust. he would have done so. As far as he could see. There are times when a master must waive sentiment. was a different thing altogether. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. The surprise. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. the extent of the damage done. It was on another plane. With a sigh of relief Mr. He always played the game. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous.summer at any rate.

Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. He would lay the whole thing before Mr. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. I'm afraid." said Mr. There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. in the middle of which stood Mr." Mr." began Mr. but they would have to wait. About Wyatt. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill." And. The blind shot up. I'll climb in through here. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. . "Can I have a word with you. The thing still rankled." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you. and walked round to Wain's. shall I? No need to unlock the door. He could not let the matter rest where it was. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. Wain. Appleby. Mr. Mr. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. He turned down his lamp. Mr. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. Wain. only it's something important. greatly to Mr. Appleby. "I'll smoke. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. if you don't mind. and squeezed through into the room." "Sorry. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. like a sea-beast among rocks. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. Wain?" he said.This was the conclusion to which Mr. Exceedingly so. instead of through the agency of the headmaster. He tapped on the window.

Good-night. He had taken the only possible course. He hoped ." "I don't see why. Appleby." said Mr. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. "Let's leave it at that." "Good-night." Mr." "So was I. I am astonished. Exceedingly so. a little nettled. "What shall I do?" Mr. That is a very good idea of yours. and have it out with him." "There is certainly something in what you say. sit down. Wain on reflection. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents." "Possibly. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. and. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. If you come to think of it. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Dear me. Appleby. You're the parent. It's like daylight out of doors." "He's not there now. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind." "No. Yes. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. You can deal with the thing directly. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. Appleby. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence. "A good deal. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster. Appleby offered no suggestion. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. Sorry to have disturbed you." "You astound me." "Bars can be removed. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. You are not going?" "Must." "You must have been mistaken. You are quite right. Why."James! In your garden! Impossible. this is most extraordinary." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred." "I will. It isn't like an ordinary case. Tackle the boy when he comes in. He was wondering what would happen." said Mr. He would have no choice. then." Mr. Appleby. That is certainly the course I should pursue.

from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. asleep. Wyatt he had regarded. one of the bars was missing from the window. thinking. and walked quietly upstairs. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. he felt.. It was not. he would hardly have returned yet. . For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. Mr. by silent but mutual agreement. He had been working hard. least of all in those many years younger than himself. It would be a thousand pities. and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. If he had gone out.. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. He grunted.. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible. Appleby had been right. the life of an assistant master at a public school. He took a candle. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. therefore. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Lately. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. if he were to be expelled. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. and the night was warm. Mr. It was not all roses. The light of the candle fell on both beds.. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. and nothing else. and waited there in the semi-darkness. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up.. If further proof had been needed. so much as an exasperated. This breaking-out. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. Mike was there. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. He liked Wyatt. a sorrowful. pondering over the news he had heard. he reflected wrathfully. was the last straw. and then consider the episode closed. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. He blew the candle out. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son.. But the other bed was empty. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. it was true. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. broken by various small encounters.they would not. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. as a complete nuisance. The moon shone in through the empty space. Mr. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say.

"Hullo. The time had come to put an end to it. Wyatt should not be expelled. but could hear nothing. "James!" said Mr. . Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Then he seemed to recover himself. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. But he should leave. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly. Wain had arrived at this conclusion.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. immediately. Jackson. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. "Go to sleep. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. Mike saw him start. His voice sounded ominously hollow. and rubbed his hands together. Wain relit his candle. and that immediately. and the letter should go by the first post next day. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now." snapped the house-master. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. Wain. There was literally no way out. "Hullo!" said Mike. father!" he said pleasantly. is that you. Mr. asking them to receive his step-son at once. At that moment Mr. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. as the house-master shifted his position. Wyatt dusted his knees. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. He lay down again without a word. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback.

it seemed a long silence. About an hour. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. Mike began to get alarmed. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle. Then Mr. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. I say. sir." "I got a bit of a start myself. I shall be sorry to part with you." said Wyatt at last. what!" "But. The swift and sudden boot. Wain spoke. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. I suppose.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. "It's all right. I say. "Yes. rolling with laughter." "What'll he do. "You have been out. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. now. speaking with difficulty. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours.' We . "That reminds me. really. Speaking at a venture. lying in bed. Follow me there. do you think?" "Ah. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly." He left the room. sir. "I say. "I am astonished. Wyatt!" said Mike. "But." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. He flung himself down on his bed." "Yes. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here. my little Hyacinth. Suppose I'd better go down. "I shall talk to you in my study. it's awful." said Wyatt. To Mike. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot." said Wyatt. Exceedingly astonished. Me sweating to get in quietly. holding his breath.

"It slipped. "Exceedingly. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. That'll be me. Well. This is my Moscow. sir. Don't go to sleep." "The fact is----" said Wyatt." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes." "What?" "Yes. "Well?" "I haven't one. I follow. sir." he said. out of the house. Wain took up a pen." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night. "Only my slipper." Mr. James. Where are me slippers? Ha. James?" Wyatt said nothing. Mr. sir. 'tis well! Lead on. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter." "And. may I inquire. "Sit down. and began to tap the table." "What were you doing out of your dormitory." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. then. sir. Wain jumped nervously.shall meet at Philippi." "Not likely. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter." explained Wyatt. I suppose I'd better go down. "Well." * * * * * In the study Mr. minions. choking sob. Wyatt sat down. at that hour?" "I went for a walk.

You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. Wain suspended tapping operations. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. In a minute or two he would be asleep." Wyatt nodded." continued Mr. but this is a far more serious matter. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No. "As you know. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. Tap like that. At once. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. "I wish you wouldn't do that." "I need hardly say. James. You must leave the school. "It is expulsion." said Wyatt laconically. . I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. Only it _was_ sending me off. You will not go to school to-morrow. approvingly. father. I mean." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker." said Wyatt. It is impossible for me to overlook it. Do you understand? That is all. It is not fitting. Wyatt. James. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. It's sending me to sleep. exceedingly. even were I disposed to do so. Exceedingly so. watching it." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry.motor-car. "I am sorry. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected." Mr. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme. to see this attitude in you." "You will leave directly I receive his letter. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways." "Of course. sir. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. Wain. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. and resumed the thread of his discourse. ignoring the interruption.

The reflection was doubtless philosophic. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr."No. "Oh. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school." Burgess's first thought." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. yes. was in great request as an informant. "Buck up." "What? When?" "He's left already. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon. Mike. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight." he said. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. but it failed to comfort him. here you are. "What happened?" "We chatted. "Anybody seen young--oh." Mike was miserably silent. as befitted a good cricket captain. I shoot off almost immediately. Burgess came up. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy. as an actual spectator of the drama. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. he's got to leave. father. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. all amongst the ink and ledgers. He isn't coming to school again." said Wyatt cheerfully. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked. was for his team. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. Wain were public property. and began to undress. or some rot. .

" "All right. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. "Hullo. though!" he added after a pause. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. "I say. you see. young Jackson. however. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. There was. Not unless he comes to the dorm. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit." "He'll find it rather a change." said Mike. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight. As a matter of fact. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. that's the part he bars most." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story." "I should like to say good-bye. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. during the night." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. They met in the cloisters. withdrawn. his pal. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match. Hope he does. without enthusiasm. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. I expect. "All the same. and he's taken him away from the school. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. one exception to the general rule. Wyatt was his best friend. Look here. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an ."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. Mike!" said Bob. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess." continued Burgess. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life." agreed Mike. Bob was the next to interview him. last night after Neville-Smith's. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. anyway. You'll play on Saturday. You know.

There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. "If it hadn't been for me. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. as far as I can see." he said at length. Jackson. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven. Well. "What's up?" asked Bob." . do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. They walked on without further Wain's gate. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. "It was absolutely my fault." "Neville-Smith! Why. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. way. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. where Mike left him. I don't know. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. by the way." said Mike. Only our first. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him." "Oh. "It was all my fault. "Only that. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. In extra on Saturday. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. plunged in meditation. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. this wouldn't have happened. "Nothing much. That's all. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. "I say. Bob. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished. with a forced and grisly calm." said Burgess.

made. Bob went on his way to the nets." said Bob. for lack of anything better to say. or was being. did he?" Mike. I should think. He must be able to work it. I may hold a catch for a change. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. They whacked the M." "By Jove. Spenlow. as most other boys of his age would have been. He never chucked the show altogether. and once. And he can ride. you never know what's going to happen at cricket.C. that's to say." Burgess grunted. Mike was just putting on his pads. where countless sheep lived and had their being. Mike. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. "I say.C. Like Mr. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt. he'd jump at anything. I'll write to father to-night." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. Jolly hot team of M." "Oh. So Mr. I know. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. from all accounts. Wain's dressing-room. If it comes off. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented." "By Jove. well."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. he had a partner. "I wanted to see you.C. presumably on business. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. the door of which that cautious pedagogue. . a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed.C. "Very. He's a jolly good shot." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. three years ago. As a matter of fact. All these things seemed to show that Mr. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. his father had gone over there for a visit. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. glad to be there again. the Argentine Republic. who believed in taking no chances. Stronger than the one we drew with. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. I've thought of something. to start with. too. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. It's about Wyatt.

by a Beginner. These letters he would then stamp. which had run as follows: "Mr." "Everything?" "Yes. sir. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield." "Cricketer?" "Yes. but to the point. you won't get any more of it now.. there was no reason why something should not be done for him. sir. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger.. Mr. so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. Well.. sir. He had first had a brief conversation with the manager.. Wyatt?" "Yes. CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match. and subsequently take in bundles to the . Sportsman?" "Yes. sir. Jackson's letter was short." "H'm . A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. He said that he hoped something could be managed. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters." His advent had apparently caused little sensation." "H'm .. sir." "Play football?" "Yes. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability.locked from the outside on retiring to rest.." After which a Mr. In any case he would buy him a lunch. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs. sir. but that. Wyatt's letter was longer. Racquets?" "Yes. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer." "H'm .

and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after all. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting." said Mr. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries. But it doesn't seem in my line.C.' So long. I suppose. "I should win the toss to-day. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles. It was a day on which to win the toss. There were twelve colours given three years ago. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. "Or even Wyatt. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. Burgess. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. To do only averagely well. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. sir. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle. The Ripton match was a special event. It would just suit him. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. Even twenty. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. and go in first. Spence. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. "I should cook the accounts. if the sun comes out. this. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. Spence. Mind you make a century. Still. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Honours were heaped upon him. if it got the school out of a tight place. would be as useless as not playing at all. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure.C. to be among the ruck. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. "Just what I was thinking. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. if I were you. It had stopped late at night.' which is a sort of start." wrote Wyatt. Wyatt. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. match. by J." said Burgess. At eleven-thirty.post office. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. as a member of the staff. "Who will go on first with you. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval." Mr. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. when the match was timed to begin. was not slow to recognise this fact. Burgess. inspecting the wicket with Mr. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. Burgess?" .

" "I know the chap." "Oh." "Tails it is. and comes in instead." "Heads." "Well." said Burgess ruefully. though. "One consolation is. Ellerby. it might have been all right. above all. On a dry. that's a . we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock." said Burgess. I believe. I've lost the toss five times running. He was crocked when they came here. The other's yours. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. "Certainly. And. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine." said Burgess. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. He wasn't in the team last year. A boy called de Freece." "You'll put us in. I must tell the fellows to look out for it." "I should. They had been at the same private school. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. Looks as if it were going away. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. I think." "I don't think a lot of that. so I was bound to win to-day. were old acquaintances. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch. It's a hobby of mine. the Ripton captain." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. "It's a nuisance too." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose."Who do you think. This end. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. I don't know of him. "but I think we'll toss." "I must win the toss. He's a pretty useful chap all round. Plays racquets for them too. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. win the toss. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday. well. You call. Mac. about our batting. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long." said Maclaine. I suppose?" "Yes--after us. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. "We'll go in first. of the Bosanquet type.

was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. Dashing tactics were laid aside. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. and Bob. run out. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. but the score. Then . Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. and was certain to get worse. seventy-four for three wickets. The policy proved successful for a time. gave place to Grant. Burgess began to look happier. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. as it generally does. but which did not always break." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. The change worked. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. as he would want the field paved with it. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. So Ripton went in to hit. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley.comfort. At sixty Ellerby. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. held it. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. which was now shining brightly. They plodded on. Maclaine. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. The score mounted rapidly. Buck up and send some one in. Burgess. The pitch had begun to play tricks. Another hour of play remained before lunch. as also happened now. Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. but it means that wickets will fall. and let's get at you. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. They meant to force the game. Twenty came in ten minutes. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. The sun. he was compelled to tread cautiously. as it did on this occasion. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors.

He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. medium-paced yorker. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. who had gone on again instead of Grant. found his leg-stump knocked back. did what Burgess had failed to do. The last man had just gone to the wickets. Every run was invaluable now. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. Just a ball or two to the last man. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. as they walked . A four and a three to de Freece. So far it was anybody's game. He had made twenty-eight. he explained to Mike. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. and de Freece. the ten minutes before lunch. the slow bowler. a semicircular stroke. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. when a quarter to two arrived. when Ellerby. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. it was not a yorker.Ellerby. they resent it. it was not straight. and with it the luncheon interval. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. swiping at it with a bright smile. His record score. missed his second. He bowled a straight. came off with distressing frequency. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. And when he bowled a straight ball. but he had also a very accurate eye. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. for the last ten minutes. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. and his one hit. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. The other batsman played out the over. when the wicket is bad. and it will be their turn to bat. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. That period which is always so dangerous.

* * * * * With the ground in its usual true. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings. ." he said. "L. if he doesn't look out. Berry. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. would be anything record-breaking. But ordinary standards would not apply here." said Burgess helpfully. "It's that googly man.-b. stick a bat in the way. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand.to the pavilion. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. "Thought the thing was going to break. First ball. On a bad wicket--well. and not your legs. For goodness sake." said Burgess blankly. It would have been a gentle canter for them. He thought it was all right. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. "That chap'll have Berry." "Hear that. "Morris is out. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket. rather than confidence that their best. On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred side. when done.-w. Berridge. for this or any ground. You must look out for that. A grim determination to do their best. But Berridge survived the ordeal. He turned his first ball to leg for a single. hard condition. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. Hullo." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No. Morris was the tenth case. he said.-w. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. but it didn't.-b. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. He breaks like sin all over the shop. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. and make for the pavilion. The tragedy started with the very first ball. Berry? He doesn't always break. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun.

addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board." . Bob was the next man in. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not." Ellerby echoed the remark. broke it. but it was considerably better than one for two. He sent them down medium-pace. Ellerby took off his pads. he was smartly at thirty. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. the cloud began perceptibly to lift." said Ellerby. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. Mike was silent and thoughtful. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. The last of the over had him in two minds. "It's getting trickier every minute. and scoring a couple of twos off it. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. Ten for two was not good. Bob's out!. He started to play forward. He had then." he said. and the second tragedy occurred. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. By George. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut. but this the next ball. He was in after Bob. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. The voice of the scorer. "One for two. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then.This brought Marsh to the batting end. "The only thing is. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. The cloud began to settle again. we might have a chance. he isn't. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over. "This is all right. Mike nodded. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. and took off his blazer.. Last man duck. stumped. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. With the score Freece. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. if we can only stay in. jumping out to drive.. He got up. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. The wicket'll get better. No.

get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. and try and knock that man de Freece off. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. Oh. "I'm going to shove you down one. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. Berridge was out by a yard. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. 54. . as if it were some one else's. Every little helps.. "That's the way I was had. "Good man. as Ellerby had done. A howl of delight went up from the school. had fumbled the ball." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess. when. "Forty-one for four. more by accident than by accurate timing." said Ellerby. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. the batsmen crossed. but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist." he said. Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. 5. But now his feelings were different.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob." said Mike. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. Jackson. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain.C. He came to where Mike was sitting. There was no sense of individuality." said Ellerby.. The melancholy youth put up the figures. was not conscious of any particular nervousness.. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here." "Bob's broken his egg. If only somebody would knock him off his length. and had nearly met the same fate. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school." "All right. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. Mike." said Mike. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. 12. which was repeated. you silly ass. on the board. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite." said Ellerby. I believe we might win yet. however. _fortissimo_. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. When he had gone out to bat against the M. He was cool.C. The wicket-keeper.

And Mike took after Joe. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. He felt that he knew where he was now. . The next ball was of the same length. It pitched slightly to leg. Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. and hit it before it had time to break. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. It has nothing. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. as he settled himself to face the bowler. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Joe would be in his element. Bob played out the over with elaborate care. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. They had been well pitched up. a comfortable three. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. considering his pace. The ball was too short to reach with comfort.-b. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. and whipped in quickly. in school matches. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. apparently. or very little.-w. and stepped back. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. But something seemed to whisper to him. finer players. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. Indeed. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. but this time off the off-stump. De Freece said nothing. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. to do with actual health. The umpire shook his head. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. The ball hit his right pad. Mike jumped out. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. Mike had faced half-left. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. He knew what to do now. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. and not short enough to take liberties with. and he had smothered them. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. that he was at the top of his batting form.Fitness. "'S that?" shouted mid-on.

There was nervousness written all over him. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. At a hundred and four. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. . but he was uncertain. In the present case. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match. and so. Mike could see him licking his lips. which had not been much in evidence hitherto." "You ass. and made twenty-one. He survived an over from de Freece. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. and de Freece's pet googly. "Don't say that. His departure upset the scheme of things. To-day he never looked like settling down. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs. was a promising rather than an effective bat. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. The last ball of the over. He had an excellent style. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. mainly by singles. Henfrey. Practically they had only one." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions." said Ellerby. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. the next man in. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. And.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. It was a long-hop on the off. nor Grant. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. he lifted over the other boundary. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. he made a lot of runs." said Berridge. For himself he had no fear now. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. a half-volley to leg. in the pavilion. Apparently. however. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. (Two years later. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. for neither Ashe. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. But Mike did not get out. to a hundred. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. the score mounted to eighty. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. He had made twenty-six.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. that this was his day. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. or he's certain to get out. and the wicket was getting easier. He might possibly get out off his next ball. "Sixty up. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. thence to ninety. but he was full of that conviction. The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. which comes to all batsmen on occasion.

and set his teeth. Mike took them. The wicket was almost true again now. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off." shouted Grant. Jackson. announced that he had reached his fifty. it all but got through Mike's defence." said Mike. was well-meaning but erratic." "All right. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. "collar the bowling all you know. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. The next over was doubly sensational. He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. But he did not score. Another fraction of a second. Forty to win! A large order. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. I shall get outed first ball. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. But the sixth was of a different kind. It rolled in the direction of third man. and a school prefect to boot. But each time luck was with him. As it was.. but this happened now. Could he go up to him and explain that he. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end." said the umpire. he stopped it. and he would have been run out. . who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. The last ball of the over he mishit. and for the first five balls he could not find his length.. The fast bowler.He was not kept long in suspense. A distant clapping from the pavilion. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. but even so. and it was possible to take liberties. "For goodness sake. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. "Over. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length.. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty." he whispered. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. or we're done. "Come on. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. But it was going to be done. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. taken up a moment later all round the ground.

"that young Jackson was only playing as a sub. It was an awe-inspiring moment." continued he." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. For four balls he baffled the attack. A great stillness was over all the ground. The school broke into one great howl of joy. Mike's knees trembled. A bail fell silently to the ground. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. and the bowling was not de Freece's. by the way?" "Eighty-three. rough luck on de Freece. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch. It was young Jackson. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two." "The funny part of it is. Mike had got the bowling. I say." said Maclaine. Grant looked embarrassed. but determined." said Maclaine. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. * * * * * "Good game. He bowled rippingly. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run.That over was an experience Mike never forgot." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. meeting Burgess in the pavilion." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. There were still seven runs between them and victory. and touched the off-stump. and rolled back down the pitch. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. The next moment the crisis was past. Point and the slips crowded round. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. The fifth curled round his bat. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. Brother of the other one.

" "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee. but was headed off." . "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. who had duly secured the stakes. "Bush-ray. bush-ray." said Phyllis." said Mr. "Bushrangers. Mr. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres." He opened the letter and began to read. "Buck up. conversationally. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. interested. The rest." "I wish Mike would come and open it. Mike's place was still empty. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. "Is there?" said Mike. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres." began Gladys Maud." she shouted. "Sorry I'm late. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them. through the bread-and-milk. had settled down to serious work. Mike read on. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock." "With a bushranger. bush-ray." said Marjory. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman. Jackson was reading letters." said Ella. Jackson) had resulted." added Phyllis.It was a morning in the middle of September. "Bush-ray. Mike. in a victory for Marjory. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "There's a letter from Wyatt. "He gives no details. The Jacksons were breakfasting. Mrs. Jackson. but expects to be fit again shortly. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. The hour being nine-fifteen. He's been wounded in a duel. referred to in a previous chapter. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. including Gladys Maud. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies." explained Gladys Maud.

and go through that way. and his day's work was done. instead of shifting off. We nipped on to a couple of horses. he wanted to ride through our place. which has crocked me for the time being. so he came to us and told us what had happened. a good chap who can't help being ugly. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. I got going then. This is what he says. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. and tooled after him. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price." said Mike. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. Only potted him in the leg. I say. and loosed off. and coming back. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. so excuse bad writing. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND .. That's the painful story.'" "By Jove!" said Mike... "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. Chester was unconscious. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR.. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver. A chap called Chester. He fired as we came up. summing up. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. After a bit we overtook him. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. Jackson. an Old Wykehamist. so I shall have to stop. Well. it was practically a bushranger. and so it was." said Phyllis. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment.. Hurt like sin afterwards. proceeded to cut the fence. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. Jackson. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. "No. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. Missed the first shot. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. and that's when the trouble began. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. I picked it up. but it turned out it was only his leg. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. Here you are. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. and dropped poor old Chester."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. which had fallen just by where I came down. pulled out our revolvers. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder. "Anyhow. "I told you it was a duel.. It happened like this. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time. So this rotter. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. and I were dipping sheep close by. I thought he was killed at first." said Marjory. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. and it was any money on the Gaucho. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. and missed him clean every time.

instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. taking his correspondence with him. But he was late. "Your report came this morning. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face." Mike seemed concerned. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. Father didn't say anything." she said. fetching and carrying for Mike." "Have you? Thanks awfully. Jackson had disappeared. but Mike was her favourite. He looked up interested. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. Mr. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. When he came down on this particular morning. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. while Marjory. jumping up as he entered." "No. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out. Mrs. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. that's a comfort." . as usual. the meal was nearly over." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket." "He didn't mean it really. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad. She had adopted him at an early age. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. looked on in a detached sort of way." said Marjory. though for the others. Blake used to write when you were in his form. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. She was fond of her other brothers. she would do it only as a favour. even for Joe.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays." said Mike philosophically. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. "I say. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. "Hullo. as Mr. "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. "I'm a bit late. It's the first I've had from Appleby." she said. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her. as she always did. Mike. Mike." Marjory was bustling about. and did the thing thoroughly. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock.

" "Where?" "He's in the study. From time to time. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. and Mike was to reign in his stead. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship. and now he had the strength as well. who treated his sons as companions. was delighted. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. As he was walking towards the house. Master Mike. minor match type. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him." "I wish I wasn't. Why. on the arrival of Mr. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. Phyllis met him. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Mike. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight." was his muttered exclamation. "Oh.C."What ho!" interpolated Mike. but already he was beginning to find his form. It was early in the Easter holidays. He seems--" added Phyllis. Jackson was an understanding sort of man." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived. appalled by the fear of losing his form. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. father wants you. He had filled out in three years. it's a beastly responsibility. Let's go and see." "What for?" "I don't know. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. I wonder if he's out at the net now." Mike's jaw fell slightly. At night sometimes he would lie awake. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the ." he said. Mr. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser." Henfrey. "you'll make a century every match next term." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. "You _are_. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. "in a beastly wax. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. She was kept busy. He liked the prospect. Everybody says you are. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. indeed. I've been hunting for you. He had always had the style. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report. however. Saunders. By the way. was not returning next term. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature.C. Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets.

"I want to speak to you. It was on this occasion that Mr. Jackson." "Here are Mr. father?" said Mike. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. is that my report. "your report. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. both in and out of school. Jackson.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation. but on several occasions. therefore. what is more.'" "We were doing Thucydides. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme. Book Two." replied Mr." said Mr. "'His conduct. Mike. very poor. "'French bad. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning." "'Mathematics bad.previous term. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. "I want you to listen to this report. kicking the waste-paper basket." said his father. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French." "Oh." Mike. . There followed an awkward silence. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. not once. with a sort of sickly interest. skilled in omens." "'Latin poor. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. Greek. and Mr. scented a row in the offing." "Oh. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. Jackson was a man of his word. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "It is. "Come in. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. that Jackson entered the study. he paused. Inattentive and idle. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. Jackson in measured tones.'" "It wasn't anything really.'" quoted Mr.

but it has one merit--boys work there. or their Eight to Bisley. but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. He understood cricket. spectacled youth who did not enter . "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas. there was a sinking feeling in his interior. He understood him. Mike's point of view was plain to him. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot." Mr. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. "I am sending you to Sedleigh." was his next remark. Mike?" said Mr. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. Mr. and Mr. Mr." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. and for that reason he said very little now. a silent. He knew it would be useless. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. "I shall abide by what I said. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. Jackson was sorry for Mike. his father. He did not approve of it. Jackson. perhaps. pure and simple. when he made up his mind. and there was an end of it. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy.' There is more to the same effect. birds were twittering. The tragedy had happened. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope." he said. but still blithely). "It is not a large school. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence." Barlitt was the vicar's son." Mike's heart thumped. Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer." he said blankly. Mike said nothing.

perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. You can't miss it. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. He hated the station. seeing the name of the station. and Mike. opened the door. It was such ." "Right. A sombre nod. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. George!" "I'll walk. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. Also the boots he wore. but not much conversation had ensued. thanks. "For the school. And. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. sir." "Thank you. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. Then he got out himself and looked about him. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. sir. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. sir?" inquired the solitary porter." said Mike frigidly. got up. bustling up. Hi. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus. so far from attempting to make the best of things. "Mr." "Here you are." said Mike. pulled up again. sir.very largely into Mike's world. "So you're back from Moscow. Mike nodded. sir." said the porter. It's waiting here." "Worse luck. sir. "Young gents at the school. He thought. It's straight on up this road to the school. Mike said nothing. He disliked his voice. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. Jackson. "It's a goodish step. for instance. sir. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812." added Mr. and the colour of his hair. and the man who took his ticket. and said. sorrier for himself than ever. He walked off up the road. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. The future seemed wholly gloomy. his appearance. Barlitt's mind was massive. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. sir.

Once he crossed a river. And now. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. Which was the bitter part of it. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. too. "Jackson?" he said mildly. but almost as good. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. and was shown into a room lined with books. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. Enderby. but he was not to be depended upon. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him.absolutely rotten luck. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. would be weak this year. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan. if he survived a few overs. There were three houses in a row. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. Outwood." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. Outwood. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. going in first. About now. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school. Burgess. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. Outwood's was the middle one of these. Strachan was a good. might make a century in an hour. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. on top of all this. He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. He had never been in command. And as captain of cricket. the return by over sixty points. at that. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. and had lost both the Ripton matches. This must be Sedleigh. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. The football fifteen had been hopeless. now that he was no longer there. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. and. who would be captain in his place. from the top of a hill. and the house-master appeared. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own. free bat on his day. It was soon after this that he caught sight. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. and knocked. He inquired for Mr. sir. Now it might never be used." . Mike went to the front door. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. But it was not the same thing. Outwood's. Wrykyn. "Yes. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. Presently the door opened.

It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. was leaning against the mantelpiece. he spoke. Jackson. It will well repay a visit. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. that's to say. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. Quite so. I think you might like a cup of tea. What's yours?" . thin youth. A very long. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. and fixed it in his right eye. But this room was occupied. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey. I understand. He spoke in a tired voice. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. his gloom visibly deepened. in Shropshire. A Nursery Garden in the Home. having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. Jackson. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. yes." he said. Quite so. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. Personally. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. My name. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. That sort of idea. Oh. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. You come from Crofton. Good-bye for the present. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. "Hullo. where they probably played hopscotch. It was a little hard. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. standing quite free from the apse wall. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. Jackson. As Mike entered." he added pensively."I am very glad to see you. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. very glad indeed. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century." said Mike. "Hullo. Ambrose. He strayed about. "is Smith. good-bye. said he had not. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. "Take a seat. In many respects it is unique. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. All alone in a strange school. then. Bishop Geoffrey. finding his bearings. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket. sir?" "What? Yes. with chamfered plinth. You will find the matron in her room." said the immaculate one. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit.

are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. for choice. Sedleigh gains. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. When I was but a babe. "but I've only just arrived. there's just one thing. everybody predicting a bright career for me. But what Eton loses. then?" "Yes! Why." "Bad luck. yes. Cp. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. "Are you the Bully. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line." "But why Sedleigh. and see that I did not raise Cain. and I don't care for Smythe. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning." "No?" said Mike. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. I shall found a new dynasty. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. or simply Smith." said Mike. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. I was sent to Eton. I was superannuated last term. the P not being sounded." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. "it was not to be. . so I don't know. too. "Let us start at the beginning. We now pass to my boyhood. "My infancy. But. If you ever have occasion to write to me." "For Eton.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson." said Mike. "No. before I start. the Pride of the School. At an early age. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. By the way." he resumed. At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. the name Zbysco. Sit down on yonder settee. and got it. See?" Mike said he saw. See? There are too many Smiths. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me." said Psmith solemnly. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike.

At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. There's a libel action in every sentence." "Wrykyn. Divided. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. It goes out on half-holidays. mark you. It's a great scheme. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something." . The son of the vicar. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. laddie. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. who told my father. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove." said Psmith. Lost lambs. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. "You have heard my painful story. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. We must stick together. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. His dislike for his new school was not diminished." said Psmith. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. Now tell me yours. and so on. will you? I've just become a Socialist. dusting his right trouser-leg. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform. but a bit too thick for me. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. prowling about. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. "hangs a tale." "And thereby. run by him. we fall. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. You work for the equal distribution of property." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. We are companions in misfortune. And. who told our curate. Outwood. who told our vicar."That was the man. Bit off his nut. We are practically long-lost brothers. Cheer a little." "I am with you. Comrade Jackson." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. together we may worry through. A noble game." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. Jawed about apses and things. To get off cricket. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. You ought to be one. You won't mind my calling you Comrade. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. Sheep that have gone astray. He could almost have embraced Psmith. The vicar told the curate.

" They went upstairs." said Psmith. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. You and I. and have a jolly good time as well." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. looking out over the school grounds. "This'll do us well. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. A chap at Wrykyn. This is practical Socialism. It was a biggish room. and get our names shoved down for the Society. "Might have been made for us. at any rate. We will snare the elusive fossil together. Psmith opened the first of these. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure." he said." "It would take a lot to make me do that. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. and one not without its meed of comfort." said Mike. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. as it were. two empty bookcases. To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. and straightening his tie." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. We shall thus improve our minds. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. we will go out of bounds." "Then let's beat up a study. Psmith approved the resolve. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. There were a couple of deal tables. "'Tis well. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol. Let's go and look." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other." said Mike. He had made up his mind on this point in the train." said Psmith approvingly. "is the exact programme. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp."I'm not going to play here. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers." . We must stake out our claims. called Wyatt. was one way of treating the situation. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. hand in hand. "Stout fellow. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent." "Not now. and a looking-glass. I suppose they have studies here." "Good idea. hung on a nail. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme." he said. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. and do a bit on our own account. "We will. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. Above all.

not ours. was rather a critic than an executant. That putrid calendar must come down. though the idea was Psmith's. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks." said Psmith. and a voice outside said. as he watched Mike light the Etna." said Psmith." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. Similarly. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. There are moments when one wants to be alone." . evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. somebody comes right in. He was full of ideas. Hullo. and begins to talk about himself. It's got an Etna and various things in it. We make progress. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. "The weed."His misfortune. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. I wonder. Do you think you could make a long arm. I had several bright things to say on the subject. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. though. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. the first thing you know is. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. What's this. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. And now." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports." A heavy body had plunged against the door. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard. "Privacy. "You couldn't make a long arm. Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it." "These school reports. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. could you." said Mike. sits down." said Psmith sympathetically. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. if you want to be really useful. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. We make progress. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study. A rattling at the handle followed. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs. "are the very dickens.

Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. "It's beastly cheek. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. on arrival. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. that's what I call it. practical order. "Well. all might have been well. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible.Mike unlocked the door." said Psmith. we Psmiths." said Psmith. and this is my study. and flung it open." said Psmith. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. Edwin!' And so. It is unusual for people to go about the place . and said. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly. it's beastly cheek. "It's beastly cheek. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). "In this life. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. but one of us. Come in and join us." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid." "My name's Spiller. But no. Homely in appearance." he repeated. deeply affected by his recital. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. a people that know not Spiller. Comrade Spiller. A stout fellow.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. Spiller evaded the question. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. I am Psmith. 'Don't go. "What the dickens. perhaps. 'Edwin. freckled boy." said he. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. We keep open house. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. we must be prepared for every emergency." inquired the newcomer. 'Edwin. He went straight to the root of the matter. you find strange faces in the familiar room. "you stayed on till the later train. put up his eyeglass. and screamed. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked." "But we do. Your father held your hand and said huskily. "to restore our tissues after our journey. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. and." said Psmith. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled." Psmith went to the table.

and Jackson. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. you are unprepared." "Spiller's.' Take the present case. Mr. and we stopped dead.' 'But suppose you did?' I said." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. "Ah. He hummed lightly as he walked. Spiller.' So he stamped on the accelerator.' he said. It was Simpson's last term. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. "All I know is. we know. "And Smith." "But what steps. Spiller pink and determined." "Not an unsound scheme.bagging studies." said Psmith. and Simpson's left. 'Now we'll let her rip. Psmith particularly debonair. of course. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. and the other's the accelerator. so. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower." The trio made their way to the Presence. Spiller. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. We may as well all go together. the man of Logic. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless. But what of Spiller. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all. it's my study. By no means a scaly project. The thing comes on you as a surprise. and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. . I am glad to see that you have already made friends. 'I couldn't. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. and I'm next on the house list. "are you going to take? Spiller." Mr. I'm going to have it." "Look here. One's the foot-brake." he said. and skidded into a ditch. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. Spiller. sir. Error! Ah." said Psmith. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible. 'I wouldn't. As it is. He cannot cope with the situation. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. let this be a lesson to you. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study. Mike sullen. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares.

Spiller. two miles from the school. "I understand. Mr. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Do you want to join. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. His colleague. "I am delighted." he said. "Yes. too!" Mr." Mr. "One moment. not at all. I am very pleased. "One moment. were in the main earnest." "Oh. Smith?" "Intensely." burst out this paragon of all the virtues. never had any difficulty in finding support. "I have been unable to induce to join. Spiller. sir."Er--quite so. Cricket and football. sir." said Psmith. I will put down your name at once. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. Archaeology fascinates me. Outwood beamed. sir--" said Spiller. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you." "Please. "Yes. sir. games that left him cold. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. appeared to be the main interest in their lives." "There is no vice in Spiller. sir. though small." "Not at all." "Spiller. Smith." "Ah. sir." said Psmith sadly. very pleased indeed. Is there anything----" "Please." said Psmith. while his own band. sir." he said at last. Boys came readily at his call. Downing. sir--" said Spiller. quite so. "His heart is the heart of a little child. Mr. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." pursued Psmith earnestly. "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. sir--" began Spiller. This enthusiasm is most capital. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band. sir. A grand pursuit. who presided over the School Fire Brigade." "Please. Smith. Smith." ." "Undoubtedly. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school." "And Jackson's. Most delighted. This is capital. he is one of our oldest members. Smith. tolerantly." "Jackson. We have a small Archaeological Society. I--er--in a measure look after it. if you were not too busy. "that accounts for it.

Fight against it." "But. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. sir. always be glad to see Spiller in our study." "Certainly." "Thank you very much. Outwood." He turned to Mr. sir--" said Spiller. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. "is your besetting fault. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. Quite so. A very good idea." "All this sort of thing. "is very. You should have spoken before. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. Spiller. "One moment. sir. very trying for a man of culture. sir. Edwin." said Psmith. Correct it. Smith."We shall be there. sir. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. sir. We will move our things in. "Please. Smith. An excellent arrangement." "Thank you very much." said Psmith. Spiller." "Yes. as they closed the door. sir." "Quite so. Spiller." shouted Spiller. Spiller. sir. "We should. of course." "Capital!" "Please. I come next after Simpson." said Mike. Smith." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE . sir. "This tendency to delay. sir. if you could spare the time." "Quite so." he said. "There is just one other matter. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller.

jam a chair against it. ." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. and we can lock that. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. as you rightly remark. but we must rout him out once more." "_And_. they can only get at us through the door." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller." he said." said Psmith courteously. he would not have appreciated it properly." said Psmith. I mean. This place would have been wasted on Spiller." Mike was finishing his tea. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this." As they got up. "We will now. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. we're all right while we stick here. I say. "about when we leave this room." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. "The difficulty is." "And jam a chair against it. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart." he said with approval. We are as sons to him. "He thinks of everything! You're the man. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. though." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. with your permission. I don't like rows. Smith. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. face the future for awhile." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories." "The loss was mine. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. "We ought to have known each other before." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness. Here we are in a stronghold. there is nothing he can deny us." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions. Comrade Jackson. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis. and this time there followed a knocking. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. the door handle rattled again. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place."There are few pleasures. but we can't stay all night.

"Let us parley with the man. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature. "He might get about half a dozen. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. "I just came up to have a look at you. rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe. A light-haired youth with a cheerful. say." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. not more. with. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." said Psmith. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better." he explained." said Psmith. for instance. in his practical way." Mike unlocked the door." said Psmith approvingly. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." said Psmith. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. _I_ think Spiller's an ass." giggled Jellicoe." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. only it belongs to three ." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out. then?" asked Mike." said Mike. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour. "If you move a little to the left." "As I suspected." sighed Psmith." "Old Spiller. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword." "Sturdy common sense." "How many _will_ there be. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass." said Psmith.

" "I believe in the equal distribution of property. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe." he said." said Psmith." "And now." This time it was a small boy. "has sprung up between Jackson. "are beginning to move. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly. if you would have any objection to Jackson. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. Better leave the door open." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. "That door. and some other chaps. Smith. crowding . sir.chaps. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. Comrade Spiller. Smith?" he said. it will save trouble. The handle began to revolve again. Smith. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. but shall be delighted to see him up here. as they returned to the study. "We must apologise for disturbing you." Mr. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder." "We were wondering. as the messenger departed. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. come in." said Psmith. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. I think." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down." he said. sir----" "Not at all. the others waited outside." "You make friends easily. Ah." "And we can have the room. Jellicoe and myself. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. "Yes. Things. I like to see it--I like to see it.

"Come on. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor." "We'll risk it. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr." A heavy body crashed against the door. . the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him. Mike. but Mike had been watching. but it was needless. was it? Well. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg.in the doorway. the captive was already on the window-sill. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. always. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe." said Jellicoe. and then to stand by for the next attack. stepping into the room again. and the handle. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action." said Mike. the enemy gave back. swung open. This time. "They'll have it down. His was a simple and appreciative mind. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly. For a moment the doorway was blocked. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. Comrade Spiller." "You'll get it hot. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. "Look here. you chaps. was just in time to see Psmith. I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed." cried Spiller suddenly. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. Jellicoe giggled in the background. "Who was our guest?" he asked. the first shot has been fired." said Spiller. Mike jumped to help. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. turning after re-locking the door. The dogs of war are now loose. however. the door." said Psmith approvingly. As Mike arrived. "We must act." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. I say. if you don't. "Robinson. "A neat piece of work. and Mike. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. instead of resisting. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. slammed the door and locked it. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd.

"we shall have to go now." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. they were first out of the room. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. we will play the fixture on our own ground." said Mike. and have it out?" said Mike." Mike followed the advice. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. but it can't go on." The passage was empty when they opened the door. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. but Psmith was in his element." "Leave us. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes." said Psmith. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once. Well. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention. "You'd better come out. leaning against the mantelpiece.Somebody hammered on the door. When they had been in the study a few moments. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there." A bell rang in the distance. "No. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently. Jellicoe knocked at the door." "They won't do anything till after tea." he said. "is exciting. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. of course. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door." said Jellicoe. . "There's no harm in going out. I shouldn't think. It read: "Directly this is over. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. Spiller's face was crimson. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. we would be alone." "This. you'll only get it hotter if you don't." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. and see what happens." said Mike. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound. you know. Spiller. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. "Tea. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term.

or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house. well-conducted establishment. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. "only he won't. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening." said Jellicoe. as predicted by Jellicoe. We shall be glad of his moral support. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. that human encyclopaedia. and disappeared again." said Psmith placidly. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms. Shall we be moving?" Mr." said Psmith. It was probable. "And touching. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime." said Psmith. . consulted on the probable movements of the enemy." "Then I think. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven."Quite right. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress. _ne pas_. but otherwise. Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. they rag him. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. Mr. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. And now. closing the door. "the matter of noise. As to the time when an attack might be expected. He never hears anything. would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. deposed that Spiller." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. where Robinson also had a bed." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. he'll simply sit tight. retiring at ten. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all." said Mike. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. therefore." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better.

listening. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. "Dashed neat!" he said. "we will retire to our posts and wait. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. too. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. waiting for him. silence is essential. . Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep."How about that door?" said Mike. especially if. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. directly he heard the door-handle turned. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. they may wait at the top of the steps. and a slight giggle. Mike was tired after his journey. I have evolved the following plan of action." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget. had heard the noise. as on this occasion. He would then----" "I tell you what. showed that Jellicoe. Comrade Jellicoe. There was a creaking sound. too. which is close to the door. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. There were three steps leading down to it." said Psmith. Napoleon would have done that. If they have no candle. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. Comrade Jackson. but far otherwise. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. Psmith surveyed the result with approval." said Mike. Subject to your approval. If they have. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. "These humane preparations being concluded. I always ask myself on these occasions.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

" said Psmith. Let's go on and see what sort ." "On archaeology." "We are. Archaeology is a passion with us. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. I was referring to the principle of the thing. "I was not alluding to you in particular." "Good job." Mr. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad. with fervour." He stumped off." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys. the Archaeological Society here. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. But in my opinion it is foolery. I fear. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys." "At any rate. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here. sir. sir. "I don't like it. "Excellent. we went singing about the house. looking after him. I like every new boy to begin at once. Outwood last night. We are. above all." Adair turned. the better. When we heard that there was a society here. to an excitable bullfinch. probably smoking and going into low public-houses." said Psmith. Downing vehemently. sir. not wandering at large about the country. "Now _he's_ cross. A short. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket." said Psmith." said Mr. Comrade Outwood loves us. eh?" It was a master. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. too." "A very wild lot.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees. It gets him into idle. nothing else. I suppose you will both play. I tell you I don't like it. sir. "I saw Adair speaking to you. We want keenness here. Scarcely had he gone. a keen school. I want every boy to be keen. The more new blood we have. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. and walked on. "If you choose to waste your time. both in manner and appearance." sighed Psmith. loafing habits. shaking his head. sir. I suppose I can't hinder you." "I never loaf. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff.

was a very good bowler indeed. mostly in Downing's house. and Stone was a good slow bowler. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. He was not a Burgess. I was in the Wrykyn team three years. Adair. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. It was on a Thursday afternoon. There were times. by the law of averages. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and Wyatt. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson. What made it worse was that he saw. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. Altogether. after ._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. Barnes. Stone and Robinson themselves. when the sun shone. that swash-buckling pair. was a mild. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. Lead me to the nearest net. The batting was not so good. after watching behind the nets once or twice. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. "I _will_ be good. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. in his three years' experience of the school. to begin with. Any sort of a game. were both fair batsmen. but there were some quite capable men. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. It couldn't be done. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. Numbers do not make good cricket. and Milton." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. the head of Outwood's." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. Mike would have placed above him. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. There were other exponents of the game. He did not repeat the experiment. And now he positively ached for a game.

" he said. and was trying not to show it. give me the pip. "This net. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. He looked up. to be absolutely accurate. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. If he had been confronted with the Great Pyramid. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. and he patronised ruins. Mike repeated his request. from increased embarrassment. but patronising. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. He was amiable." "Over there" was the end net. This is the real cricket scent. Roman camps. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. "What?" he said. Let us find some shady nook where a . The day was warm. He went up to Adair. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. He patronised fossils. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. "Having inspired confidence. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. He was embarrassed and nervous. More abruptly this time. could stand it no longer. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. Mike. "This is the first eleven net. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. was the first eleven net. Mike walked away without a word. Psmith." it may be observed. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets." said Adair coldly.school." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. for Mr. let us slip away. "by the docility of our demeanour. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. Mr. and kept them by his aide. and brood apart for awhile. Psmith approached Mike. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. he would have patronised that. "Go in after Lodge over there. as he sat there watching. seemed to enjoy them hugely. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet.

In passing. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. offered no opposition. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. and began to bark vigorously at him. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. Comrade Jackson." he said. broad young man with a fair moustache. I rather think I'll go to sleep. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. We will rest here awhile. Call me in about an hour. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. for the Free Foresters last summer. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. hitching up the knees of his trousers. He came back to where the man was standing. and sitting down. jumped the brook." Mike. they always liked him. lay down. finding this a little dull. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. and began to explore the wood on the other side. he got up. "I was just having a look round. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. but he could not place him. I can tell you. He was too late. Ah. At the further end there was a brook. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. above all. and listen to the music of the brook. Mine are like some furrowed field. "and no farther. Their departure had passed unnoticed. and trusted to speed to save him. this looks a likely spot." "The dickens you--Why. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action.man may lie on his back for a bit. unless you have anything important to say. Mike sat on for a few minutes. and closed his eyes." said Psmith. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. Mike liked dogs. In the same situation a few years before." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. Mike would have carried on. "And. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. and. dancing in among my . "Thus far. "I played against you. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. "A fatiguing pursuit. Looking back." And Psmith. In fact. and they strolled away down the hill. He was a short. and then. on acquaintance." said Psmith. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him.

What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. You made fifty-eight not out. but no great shakes." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. you see." he concluded. "So. By the way." said Mike.nesting pheasants." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front." "I'll lend you everything." "I'll give you all you want. if you want me to. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. "I hang out down here. By Jove. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. you know." "You ought to have had me second ball. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." "That's all right. turning to the subject next his heart. You're Prendergast. I say. We all start out together. only cover dropped it. It's just off the London road." "I'll play on a rockery." "Thanks. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. He began to talk about himself. I'm simply dying for a game. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. I'll tell you how it is." "I'm frightfully sorry. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. * * * * * . Very keen. Look here. "Only village. "Any Wednesday or Saturday. but I could nip back." And he told how matters stood with him. There's a sign-post where you turn off.

Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. Downing. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. Mike began. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. and the most important. Downing. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. will you? I don't want it to get about. Downing's special care. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. Jackson. don't tell a soul. to enjoy himself. sleepily. Mr. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. on being awakened and told the news. If you like the game. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. never an easy form-master to get on with. for a village near here. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. To Mike. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes." One of the most acute of these crises. M. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. I say. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team. As time went on. "I'm going to play cricket. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy. employed doing "over-time. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. and it grew with further acquaintance. It was not Wrykyn." "My lips are sealed. and Mr. I think I'll come and watch you. pompous."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. Cricket I dislike. though he would not have admitted it." * * * * * That Saturday. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. punctuated at intervals by crises. but it was a very decent substitute. life can never be entirely grey. indeed. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Mr. fussy. To Mr. Downing. It was.

a tenor voice." . Downing's form-room. Wilson?" "Please. and a particular friend of Mike's. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. Sammy was the other. much in request during French lessons. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. under him was a captain. a sort of high priest. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. Downing. Stone. an engaging expression. "One moment. Downing. The rest were entirely frivolous. who." Red. At its head was Mr. Sammy. Downing had closed the minute-book. of Outwood's house. Downing. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. These two officials were those sportive allies. He was a large.esteem of Mr. Wilson. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. or Downing. was the Sedleigh colour. with green stripes. To show a keenness for cricket was good. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. As soon as Mr. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. spirit. To-day they were in very fair form. He had long legs. The proceedings always began in the same way. the tongue of an ant-eater. sir?" asked Stone. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. and under the captain a vice-captain. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. We will now proceed to the painful details. and was apparently made of india-rubber. "Well. "Shall I put it to the vote. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. held up his hand. short for Sampson. The Brigade was carefully organised. about thirty in all. sir. Downing pondered "Red. who looked on the Brigade in the right. Outwood. sir. In passing. light-hearted dog with a white coat. was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. with a thin green stripe. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. of the School House. Under them were the rank and file. Stone and Robinson. had joined young and worked their way up.

of course. sir. those against it to the right. "Sit down!" he said. and the meeting had divided. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. Mr. sir. sir. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. sir. sir. of course." said Stone. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. Mr." said Robinson."Those in favour of the motion move to the left." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. perfectly preposterous. "Silence!" "Then. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. sit down--Wilson. sir. sir." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. listen to me. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands. please. Stone. "I don't think my people would be pleased. Stone. the danger!" "Please. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is." "Please. sir. get back to your place. out of the question. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone." "Please. We cannot plunge into needless expense." A scuffling of feet. The whole strength of the company: "Please." . the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. sir. Wilson?" "Please. Downing banged on his desk. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance. sir-r-r!" "But. Well. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive.

We must have keenness. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. sir?" asked Mike. "Noise. "I think it's something outside the window." A pained "OO-oo-oo. "A bird. Downing.Mr. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. I want you boys above all to be keen. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. I think." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. sir?" said a voice "off. there must be less of this flippancy." "What _sort_ of noise. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. sir. I'm not making a whining noise. mingled with cries half-suppressed. Wilson!" "Yes. sir?" asked Mike. sir? No. sir?" inquired Mike. He was not alone. The muffled cries grew more distinct. Those near enough to see." he remarked frostily." he said. Downing smiled a wry smile. Wilson. "do me one hundred lines. "May I fetch a book from my desk. Downing. sir!" "This moment. Mr. sir." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr. Downing." as he reached the door." said Robinson." was cut off by the closing door. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. And. puzzled. "Sir. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. "Very well--be quick. we are busy. sir. Jackson. leave the room!" "Sir. no. as many Wrykynians . "Our Wilson is facetious. sir-r-r. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. "It's outside the door. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. _please_." said Stone helpfully.

Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. sir?" bellowed the unseen one. It is a curious whining noise. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that." said the invisible Wilson. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. Downing acidly. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. Downing." "It may be one of the desks squeaking. sir. bustling scene. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. sit down! Donovan. Downing's desk resembled thunder. go quietly from the room. "They do sometimes. Some leaped on to forms. rising from his place." "They are mowing the cricket field. others flung books. I said. Henderson. Mr. remain. all shouted. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. Jackson and Wilson." Crash! . Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. like Marius. if you do not sit down." said Mr. sir." "Or somebody's boots. among the ruins barking triumphantly. Mr.had asked before him. "Perhaps that's it. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks. and was now standing. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. threats. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. It was a stirring. The banging on Mr. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. you will be severely punished. "A rat!" shouted Robinson." added Robinson. the same! Go to your seat. _Quietly_. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. sir. Come in. all of you. Vincent. Downing shot out orders. "I do not propose. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. What are you doing. "to imitate the noise. "Stone." put in Stone. Chaos reigned." "Yes.

" The meeting dispersed. Wilson had supplied the rat." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. I had to let him go. Mr. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. "You may go. I fear."Wolferstan. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. "Jackson and Wilson." "I tried to collar him. That will do. Go quietly from the room. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. too. Jackson. and he came in after the rat. Jackson. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. Downing walked out of the room. Mr. sir. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. "One hundred lines." said Wilson." It was plain to Mr. but Mr. Wilson?" "Please. sir. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. but when you told me to come in." said Mike. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. "Well. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . it was true. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. Downing turned to Mike." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him. sir. Mike the dog. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade." he said. Wilson. everybody. and had refused to play cricket. come here. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. but nevertheless a member. so he came in. and paid very little for it. Also he kept wicket for the school. Jackson." And Mr. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. as one who tells of strange things. frivolous at times. We are a keen school.

" "Oh. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. and got up. But it's about all I have got." said Mike. they should have it. "What on earth for?" asked Mike." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. if you like.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. Mike's heart warmed to them." said Robinson. You can freeze on to it. asked for the loan of a sovereign. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. forgotten. (Which. "You're a sportsman. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude.They say misfortunes never come singly. "I say. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . after the Sammy incident. contemporary with Julius Caesar. Mike put down his pen. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season. Stone beamed. Robinson on the table. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. by return of post. I'm in a beastly hole. and. he did. the return match. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. it may be stated at once. Jellicoe came into the room. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. so don't be shy about paying it back. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. He was in warlike mood. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. done with. as a matter of fact. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. Robinson was laughing. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. "As a matter of fact. he would be practically penniless for weeks. He felt that he. There was. and welcomed the intrusion. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again. without preamble. sorry. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. The fact is. I do happen to have a quid. In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. They sat down.

Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. They go about. Masters were rather afraid of them. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them. you could get into some sort of a team. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished.public school." . If you know one end of a bat from the other. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. "I got Saturday afternoon. He got a hundred lines. he now found them pleasant company. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. loud and boisterous. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. a keen school. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn." "Don't you!" said Mike. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. "are a rag." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. and then they usually sober down. As to the kind of adventure. You can do what you like. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. small and large. and a vast store of animal spirits. As for Mike. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. and began to get out the tea-things. Winifred's" brand. "Well. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. They were useful at cricket. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. and you never get more than a hundred lines." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. "Were you sacked?" "No. They were absolutely free from brain." said Mike." said Stone.'" quoted Stone. They had a certain amount of muscle. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. above all. why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here." "'We are. My pater took me away.

"Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running." . Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. My word. You _must_ play. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup. "I did. I say. There are always house matches. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler." said Mike. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. W. "I've got an idea. We're playing Downing's. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. You don't get ordered about by Adair. "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J. I was in the team three years." said Stone. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day. and I should have been captain this year." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. "Why." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village." "What!" "Well." agreed Robinson. "Enough for six." said Robinson. Stone broke the silence. but they always have it in the fourth week." said Stone. if I'd stopped on. I say. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. "Why. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. for a start. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. Only a friendly. I play for a village near here."Wrykyn?" said Robinson. and the others?" "Brother." "Adair sticks on side. Place called Little Borlock. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. and knock the cover off him. look here. do play." "Think of the rag. yes. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day." "Masters don't play in house matches. "By Jove. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. Stone gaped. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is.

and a murmur of excited conversation. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. It was so in Mike's case. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. I was in the team. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. "I say. then. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. "The list isn't up yet. and make him alter it. "Are you the M. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. Mike was not a genuine convert. Then footsteps returning down the passage." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop." "Yes. Jackson."But the team's full. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door. Downing assumed it. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. THEN. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. but to Mr. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. . Barnes appeared. "I say." said Mike. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket. I mean. Mr. quite unexpectedly." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. JACKSON. Most leap at the opportunity. and when. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. "then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. on his face the look of one who has seen visions." said Mike." They dashed out of the room. "Thanks awfully." he said. He studied his _Wisden_." he said.

in the way he took . sir. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. "We are. with a kind of mild surprise. Downing. contrives to get an innings in a game. Your enthusiasm has bounds. timidly jubilant. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. Smith? You are not playing yourself. It was a good wicket. becomes the cricketer of to-day." "Indeed. With Mike it was different." he said. * * * * * Barnes. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness. where the nervous new boy." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field. Jackson. as captain of cricket. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. 2 manner--the playful." "In our house. "What!" he cried. who was with Mike. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type. sir. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr." said Psmith earnestly. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. We are essentially versatile. I notice. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which. "I like to see it. Mike saw. It is the right spirit. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over. above all. had naturally selected the best for his own match.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. on the cricket field. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. Downing's No. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. working really hard. the archaeologist of yesterday. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. sir. except for the creases. Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. Mike. Drones are not welcomed by us. "a keen house. competition is fierce. Adair.

The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. and mid-on. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. He took two short steps. A half-volley this time. was billed to break from leg. in his stand at the wickets. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. failed to stop it." said Mr. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. The fieldsmen changed over. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. slow. six dangerous balls beautifully played. The ball was well up. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. Downing irritably. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. and he knew that he was good. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. and off the wicket on the on-side. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. and ended with a combination of step and jump. when delivered. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. two long steps. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. The ball. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. "Get to them. gave a jump. Mike took guard. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad.guard. but the programme was subject to alterations. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. and. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. they were disappointed. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. Mike slammed it back. but it stopped as Mr. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. Mr. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. and dashed up against the rails. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. This time the hope was fulfilled. Mike went out at it. as several of the other games had not yet begun. as the ball came . He had got a sight of the ball now. Jenkins. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. Mike started cautiously. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. took three more short steps. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. Downing's slows. The first over was a maiden.

It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. By the time the over was finished. Downing. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. Mike had then made a hundred and three. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. Adair came up. and. "Get to them. Mr. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true. and Mike. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. by three wides. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. and then retired moodily to cover-point. The expected happened. waited in position for number four. uttered with painful distinctness the words. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. without the slightest success. it is usually as well to be batting. Downing bowled one more over. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun. where. in addition. The third ball was a slow long-hop. there was a strong probability that Mr. offering no more chances. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. This happened now with Mr. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. Then he looked up. and the total of his side." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. one is inclined to be abrupt. in Adair's fifth over. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. please. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok.back from the boundary. Jenkins. sat on the splice like a limpet. and bowling well. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. Downing would pitch his next ball short. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. And a shrill small voice. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. Scared by this escape. ." "Sir. if you can manage it.

" Adair was silent for a moment. having got Downing's up a tree. As a matter of fact. "I never saw such a chump. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. am I?" said Mike. Mr. The result was that not only he himself. There's a difference." There was another pause. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. Not up to it. won't they?" suggested Barnes. politely. too. Three years. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. "Great Scott." "They'll be rather sick if we don't. "That's just the gay idea. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we . And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. Downing. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. Of all masters." said Stone. thanks."I didn't say anything of the kind. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing. I said I wasn't going to play here. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. Barnes's remark that he supposed. but also--which was rather unfair--his house." There was a silence. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. I suppose?" "Not a bit. "Sick! I should think they would. "Above it. was met with a storm of opposition. "I'm not keeping you. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. "No. and the school noticed it. "Declare!" said Robinson.

or when one is out without one's gun. if I can get it. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. "Only you know they're rather sick already. greatly daring. The first-change pair are poor. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. each weirder and more futile than the last. Bowlers came and went." said Robinson. I won't then. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket. proceeded to get to business once more. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. Play was resumed at 2. "If you declare. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day.30. after a full day's play. Time. passing in the road. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. tried their luck. amidst applause. Downing took a couple more overs." "Well. was bowling really well. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. I swear I won't field. the small change. These are the things which mark epochs.can. it was assumed by the field. fortified by food and rest. In no previous Sedleigh match. And the rest. Besides. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's. Adair." said Stone with a wide grin. But still the first-wicket stand continued. playing himself in again. in one of which a horse. Barnes. mercifully. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. and Mike. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. going in first early in the morning. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6." said Barnes unhappily. that directly he had topped his second century. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. and Stone came out. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. Mr. Nor will Robinson. At four o'clock." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. Games had frequently been one-sided. and that is what happened now. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance.15." "Don't you worry about that. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished." "Rather not." "So do I. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. He retired blushfully to the pavilion.

The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. a week later. and still Barnes made no sign. too. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force. not out.. Stone.. sir. He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something... "Barnes!" "Please. Hassall....." Mr. in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.." "Declare! Sir. P. just above the mantelpiece.) A grey dismay settled on the field. sir. Downing." snapped Mr. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him.. He had an unorthodox style. J. but his score. _b_.. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain." said Stone.. "Capital... _c_.. And now let's start _our_ innings." "This is absurd. was mounting steadily.." "Absurd. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's. 124 .. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic. but an excellent eye.. Lobs were being tried. Jackson... and the next over. Downing walked moodily to his place. and the next after that. not out... DOWNING'S _Outwood's.. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room... The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. capital." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. sir. as a matter of fact." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl. 277 W.. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. First innings. as who should say.." "It is perfect foolery... and Stone. nearly weeping with pure joy... 33 M... (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was... There was no reply...._ J.. a slip of paper.way. "I think Barnes must have left the field.. Mike's pace had become slower. Barnes. You must declare your innings closed. "Barnes!" he called. Hammond.. But the next ball was bowled. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type... "This is foolery." "He's very touchy.. The game has become a farce.. we can't unless Barnes does. as was only natural... there was on view.

as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair. Downing. You will probably get sacked..... felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week. "In an ordinary way. CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe.. "In theory.... I suppose. it's worth it." said he." "I don't care." "He doesn't deserve to. he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. 471 Downing's did not bat..Extras. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out.. "the the place was crept to my side. from what I have seen of our bright little friend... even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries." he said.. and Mike. slipping his little hand in mine. would have made Job foam at the mouth.. for three quid.. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. Comrade Jellicoe and. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr." . On the other hand. 37 ----Total (for one wicket)... One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. if he had cared to take the part. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket." murmured Mike... fagged as he was... a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little... Twenty-eight off one over. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open... could have been the Petted Hero." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. In fact. shifting his aching limbs in the chair. Psmith. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. leaning against the mantelpiece. is. But your performance was cruelty to animals.. here and there. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot.. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day... in a small way.. not to mention three wides. touched me This interested Mike.... I should say that. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel. When all ringing with song and merriment.. Mike.. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue.

There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. I'm stiff all over. the various points of his innings that day. He felt very hot and uncomfortable. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. He wanted four. I hope. and then dropped gently off. as the best substitute for sleep." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what." There was a creaking. "Are you asleep. he'll pay me back a bit. nothing. I can't get to sleep. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Jackson!" he said." "I'll come over and sit on your bed." "Nor can I. "I say. when he's collected enough for his needs." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married." Silence again. Well. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. Psmith chatted for general. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind." * * * * * a log. wrapped in gloom. who appeared to be to the conversation. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. I'm pretty well cleaned out. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes." "I got some from my brother at Oxford. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. It was done on the correspondence system. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. . a time on human affairs in Jellicoe. but he could not sleep. clinking sovereigns. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood.

He was not really listening. They might all be out. and all that. and you'd go out into the passage. I don't know." "Happen when?" "When you got home. "Hullo?" he said. "Nobody. Have you got any sisters. and you'd drive up to the house." "Everybody's would. too." The bed creaked. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say. as it were." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. or to Australia. and the servant would open the door. But if you were. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. After being sacked. and you'd go in. My sister would be jolly sick. and presently you'd hear them come in. you know. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts." Mike dozed off again. Jackson? I say." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. "My pater would be frightfully sick. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . or something. Then he spoke again. and then you'd have to hang about. Why?" "Oh." "Yes. I expect. and wait."Jackson." "Hullo?" "I say. I meant. My mater would be sick. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. in order to give verisimilitude. And then you'd be sent into a bank. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. Especially my pater. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe. So would mine. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. I suppose. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen.

"Me--Jellicoe. where he was a natural genius. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon." "Any what?" "Sisters." "Whose sisters?" "Yours. "I say. He was as obstinate as a mule." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. do you?" "What!" cried Mike." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. already looking about him for further loans. Was it a hobby. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. he was just ordinary. "Do _what_?" "I say. You'll wake Smith." Mike pondered. I asked if you'd got any. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. I shall get sacked if I don't get it. look out." said Jellicoe eagerly. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say. He changed the subject. He resembled ninety per cent. But it's jolly serious. though people whom he liked . of other members of English public schools. This thing was too much. He had some virtues and a good many defects. Except on the cricket field.

he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. He was rigidly truthful. The great match had not been an ordinary match. in addition. It was a wrench. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. Downing was a curious man in many ways. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. As Psmith had said. He had. it had to be done. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. till Psmith. there was the interview with Mr. In addition to this. which had arrived that evening. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. Yesterday's performance. one good quality without any defect to balance it. Bob's postal order. he had never felt stiffer in his life. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. It was a particularly fine day. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. Young blood had been shed overnight. The thought depressed him. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. but. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. and had. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. Downing and his house realised this. That would probably be unpleasant. stood in a class by itself. Downing to come. He was good-natured as a general thing. And when he set himself to do this. He was always ready to help people. To begin with. however. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed. Where it was a case of saving a friend. in his childhood. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. who had a sensitive ear. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. he was in detention. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. Mr. And Mr. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. which made the matter worse. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. Mr. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. where the issue concerned only himself. Finally. .could do as they pleased with him.

that prince of raggers. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. you must conceal your capabilities. he was perfectly right. And. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. "No. which was as a suit of mail against satire. did with much success. When a master has got his knife into a boy. It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . works it off on the boy. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. since the glorious day when Dunster." "Well. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. Mr. sir. more elusive. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back.Mr. Far too commonplace!" Mr. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. Downing. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. That is to say. I have spoken of this before. the user of it must be met half-way. As events turned out. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. the skipper. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. So Mr. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. when he has trouble with the crew. sir. Which Mike. Macpherson. It would be too commonplace altogether." concluded Mr. he began in a sarcastic strain. no. at sea. Downing came down from the heights with a run. sir. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. By the time he had reached his peroration." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. Downing laughed bitterly." "Please. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. in their experience of the orator. of necessity. No. that would not be dramatic enough for you. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. You must act a lie. the speaker lost his inspiration. Mike. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. Just as. For sarcasm to be effective. in the excitement of this side-issue. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. "You are surrounded. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling.

"or I'd have helped you over. Mike had strolled out by himself. is not a little confusing. "Awfully sorry. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. "Silly ass. as they crossed the field. "slamming about like that. Jellicoe hopping. a long youth. and rather embarrassingly grateful. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. Dunster. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. Jellicoe was cheerful. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be. "I shall have to be going in. puts his hands over his skull. . Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion." said Mike. he prodded himself too energetically. The bright-blazered youth walked up. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried. uttering sharp howls whenever. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small boy. man. you know." said Mike." "It's swelling up rather. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon.at the pitch." said Dunster. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. But I did yell. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it." he groaned. on hearing the shout. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. zeal outrunning discretion. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips." "Awfully sorry. To their left." "I'll give you a hand. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. crouches down and trusts to luck. The average person. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang.

Comrade Jackson." "Alas." "I heard about yesterday. the darling of the crew. "because Jellicoe wants to see you. pained. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. faithful below he did his duty.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon. I'd no idea I should find him here. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's." said Psmith. as he walked to the cricket field. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. and turning." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. The fifth ball bowled a man. "more. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. apply again. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. and when you have finished those. I notice. Restore your tissues." "Old Smith and I. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. Mike." said Dunster. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. man." sighed Psmith." said Dunster. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest." said the animal delineator. Before he got there he heard his name called. felt very much behind the times. "Return of the exile. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. Well hit. Hullo! another man out." . Mike made his way towards the pavilion." stirring sight when we met. Is anything irritating you?" he added. "More. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. Dunster gave dawg. "were at a private school together." said Psmith." said Dunster. Have a cherry?--take one or two. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. "You needn't be a funny ass.

Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now. not so much physical as mental." "Don't dream of moving. "Oh! chuck it. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again. Mike stretched himself." "Has he?" said Psmith. do you?" he said. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him.C."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. Soliloquy is a knack. where he found the injured one in a parlous state.C." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" ." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. it'll keep till tea-time." said Jellicoe gloomily. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. he felt disinclined for exertion. I like to feel that I am doing good." said Psmith. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. but probably only after years of patient practice. Hamlet had got it. I need some one to listen when I talk. the sun was in my eyes. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. "I mean. Personally. at last. man. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. "I hadn't heard." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. I suppose. "I say. I shall get sacked. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again." said Psmith to Mike." "I shall count the minutes. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. "it's too late." said Psmith.

stout man." "I say. He was a large." "I say." said Jellicoe miserably." "What absolute rot!" "But. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. Every village team. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. "I'm awfully sorry." "Yes. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag." Jellicoe sat up." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. with a red and cheerful face. do you think you could. "I say." said Mike. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. called Lower Borlock." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. it's frightfully decent of you. it can."It's about that money. look here. are you certain----" "I shall be all right." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. "Oh. he was the wag of the village team. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr." "He's the chap I owe the money to. who looked . only I got crocked. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up. for some mysterious reason. Barley filled the post. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. it's as easy as anything. hang it!" he said. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. so I couldn't move. "it can't be helped. or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked." "It doesn't matter. has its comic man.

Probably in business hours After all. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness." "I say. and if Jellicoe owed it. "it's locked up at night. He took the envelope containing the money without question. Besides. "if I can get into the shed. five pounds is a large sum of money. as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments." "I'll get it from him. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. I----" "Oh. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. I won't tell him. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. I think." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. "I shall bike there. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business." said Jellicoe. and be full of the milk he was quite different. but it did not occur to him to ask. there was nothing strange in Mr. which was unfortunate. another. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean ." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer. chuck it!" said Mike.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama." he said." "All right. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. "You can manage that.

once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. The place was shut. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. Probably he would have volunteered to come. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. "One of the Georges. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity.expulsion. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. of course. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. which for the time being has slipped my memory. which. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. 'ullo! Mr. communicating with the boots' room. Mike would have been glad of a companion. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. Jackson. "Yes. "Why. Mr. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. for many reasons. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. The advantage an inn has over a private house. "I forget which. I've given you the main idea of the thing. sir?" said the boots. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. ." said Psmith. also. has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. until he came to the inn. Jackson was easy-going with his family. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. with whom early rising was not a hobby. too. However. Still. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. Psmith had yielded up the key. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. by the cricket field. there you are. being wishful to get the job done without delay. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Mike did not want to be expelled.

then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. It was an occasion for rejoicing." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind." "The five--" Mr. Jack. and now he felt particularly fogged. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. thankful. Barley opened the letter." "Oh. who was waiting patiently by. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. and requested him to read it." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. Jackson. perhaps. "Dear. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. Jack. Jackson. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. "Well. but rather for a solemn."I want to see Mr. if it's _that_--" said the boots. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. "You can pop off. of course. Then he collapsed into a chair. dear!" chuckled Mr. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. read it. Mr. which creaked under him. "What's up?" he asked. hoping for light. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. I've got some money to give to him. Mr. Barley. . Barley." Mr." "I must see him. and wiped his eyes. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said. the five pounds. and had another attack. "Oh dear!" he said.

Mr. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. It would have been cruel to damp the man.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night. "DEAR MR. about 'ar parse five. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. Aberdeen terriers. Jellicoe. last Wednesday it were. finishing this curious document. but. took back the envelope with the five pounds. So I says to myself.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. Mike was . Mike. The other day." There was some more to the same effect. Jane--she's the worst of the two. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. in fact. and the damage'll be five pounds. every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house. is another matter altogether." it ran. and as sharp as mustard." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. since. BARLEY. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. I hope it is in time. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. "he took it all in. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. "Why. it was signed "T. and rode off on his return journey. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. Mr. simply in order to satisfy Mr. Mischief! I believe you. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful. always up to it. they are. the affair of old Tom Raxley. Jellicoe over this. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. G. 'I'll have a game with Mr. which I could not get before. Barley slapped his thigh. Love us!" Mr. Barley's sense of humour. but to be placed in a dangerous position. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter.--"I send the £5. Barley slapped his leg.

of the call caused Mike to lose his head. It was pitch-dark in the shed. and gone to bed. Without waiting to discover what this might be. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. his foot touched something on the floor. The suddenness. and as he wheeled his machine in. and locked the door. There were two gates to Mr. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. as Mike came to the ground. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. Outwood's front garden. and. carried on up the water-pipe. As he did so. it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. after which he ran across to Outwood's. Downing's house. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. It was from the right-hand gate. nearest to Mr. of which the house was the centre. and through the study window. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. Sergeant Collard .to find this out for himself. On the first day of term. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. With this knowledge. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. went out. This he accomplished with success. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. however. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact remark. Mike felt easier in his mind. his pursuer again gave tongue. that the voice had come. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. and running. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike.

The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. but Time. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase. shoot up the water-pipe once more. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. The other appeared startled. Then he would trot softly back. instead of making for the pavilion. that he had been seen and followed. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree.was a man of many fine qualities. He would have liked to be in bed. . "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. taking things easily. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. Having arrived there. he supposed--on the school clock. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. Meanwhile. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. He left his cover. at Wrykyn. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. A sound of panting was borne to him. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. turned aside. but he could not run. turned into the road that led to the school. His thoughts were miles away. this time at a walk. His programme now was simple. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. He ran on. Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. They passed the gate and went on down the road. looking out on to the cricket field. The pursuer had given the thing up. passing through the gate. Like Mike. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. this was certainly the next best thing. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. he sat on the steps. He would wait till a quarter past. he was evidently possessed of a key. Then the sound of footsteps returning. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. but. His first impression. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. Focussing his gaze. "Is that you. increasing his girth. as Mike. disappeared as the runner. if that was out of the question. with the sergeant panting in his wake. and so to bed.

He had despatched Adair for the doctor. and Mr. three doughnuts. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety. Downing. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. The school clock struck the quarter. After a moment's pause. an apple. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. half a cocoa-nut. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. One of the chaps in our house is bad. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. waiting for Adair's return. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. at a range of about two yards. and. He was off like an . therefore." Mike turned away."What are you doing out here. two ices. He would be safe now in trying for home again. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. Downing emerged from his gate. whistling between his teeth. "I'm going for the doctor. But Mr. Adair rode off. and a pound of cherries. that Mike. Jackson?" "What are you. conveyed to him by Adair. He walked in that direction." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. with a cry of "Is that you. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. and washing the lot down with tea. So long. Adair?" The next moment Mr. was a very fair stomach-ache. was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. was disturbed in his mind. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. as a matter of fact. that MacPhee. It came about. aroused from his first sleep by the news. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. Now it happened that Mr. was now standing at his front gate. All that was wrong with MacPhee.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

no. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. Mr. you think?" "I am certain of it. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. only. Mr." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. "Dear me!" he said. deeply interested. The headmaster." Mr. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. did want to smile. A big boy. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. he wanted revenge. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. was not in the best of tempers. I suppose not. Downing. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. in spite of his strict orders. Downing. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. on the other hand. who. The Head. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. He had a cold in the head. "One of the boys at the school." "No. He did not want to smile. "He--he--_what_. you say?" "Very big. taking advantage of the door being open. He received the housemaster frostily." said Mr. whoever he was. he went straight to the headmaster. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire. instead of running about the road. escaped and rushed into the road. It was not his .

unidentified. Outwood who helped him. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. Downing as they walked back to lunch. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. not to mention cromlechs. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house. It was Mr. with the exception of Johnson III. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. and Mr. Downing. who. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. but without result. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. and passed it on to Mr. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths." "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. had seen. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. Downing was left with the conviction that." Which he did. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. Mr. Downing was not listening. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on." "Impossible. suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. Downing.. Oh yes. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. at the time. gave him a most magnificent start. Outwood." Mr. Downing. broke into a wild screech of laughter.dog. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. he would have to discover him for himself. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. as far as I understand. I will speak to the school in the Hall after chapel. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. of Outwood's. and Fate. It was only . attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. Downing. the rest was comparatively easy. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. I think. "Not actually in. if he wanted the criminal discovered. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines.

sir. "Oo-oo-oo. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. sir. Outwood. which the latter was about to do unasked. Downing." "Ah!" . "Mr. sergeant. "tells me that last night. ''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. I am. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. yer young monkey. but it finishes in time." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. Mr. sir--spotted 'im. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. Downing arrived. Regardless of the claims of digestion." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move. found himself at liberty. in order to ensure privacy. he rushed forth on the trail. he used to say. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. "I did. and I doubles after 'im prompt. Downing stated his case. yer. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. sir." he said.' he used to say. "Did you catch sight of his face. Dook of Connaught. sir. sir. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. ejecting the family. Having requested his host to smoke." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. as a blind man could have told.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself." he said. sir. Oo-oo-oo." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort. Dinner was just over when Mr. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. sergeant?" "No. Feeflee good at spottin'. In due course Mr. I did.

CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. . and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead." "Good-afternoon to you. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. with a label attached. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. sir. while Sergeant Collard. and dusted." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. Downing rose to go. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them. success in the province of detective work must always be. sergeant. Good afternoon." "Pray do not move. sir. sir. Outwood's house." "I hope not." And Mr. "Well.C. the result of luck." Mr. rubbing the point in. having requested Mrs. "the search is now considerably narrowed down. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. "Good-afternoon. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses." he said. on Wednesday. The school plays the M." added the sergeant." "So do I. sir. put a handkerchief over his face. to a very large extent. Very hot to-day. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. and exhibited clearly. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. is it not?" "Feeflee warm." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. "I will find my way out. sir. sergeant. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. 'cos yer see. and slept the sleep of the just."Bare-'eaded. sergeant. if he persisted in making so much noise.C. rested his feet on the table. but it was a dark night.

but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. to detect anybody. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. As he brooded over the case in hand. but. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. there were clues lying all over the place. and leaves the next move to you. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source. Mr. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. a junior member of his house. but even if there had been only one other. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . now that he had started to handle his own first case. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. Probably. if he only knew. it would have complicated matters. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. of course. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. we should have been just as dull ourselves. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued. Mr. What he wanted was a clue. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. unless you knew who had really done the crime. Outwood's house." the boy does not reply. "Sir. when Fate once more intervened. just as the downtrodden medico did.The average man is a Doctor Watson. There were. tight-lipped smiles. even and. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. he thought. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. It is practically Stalemate. But if ever the emergency does arise. his sympathy for Dr. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. shouting to him to pick them up. We should simply have hung around. only a limited number of boys in Mr. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. having capped Mr. saying: "My dear Holmes. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. and his methods. requested that way peculiar to some boys." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. It certainly was uncommonly hard. this time in the shape of Riglett. All these things passed through Mr. as a matter of fact. Watson increased with every minute. Downing was working up for a brain-storm. but. how--?" and all the rest of it. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. If you go to a boy and say. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr.

extracted his bicycle from the rack. Much thinking had made him irritable. Yoicks! There were two things. The sound recalled Mr. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. Then suddenly. and finally remarked. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. but just a mess. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. and he is a demon at the game. Downing saw it. to be considered. It was the ground-man's paint. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. beneath the disguise of the mess. Downing. Paint. he saw the clue. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. A foot-mark. Watson a fair start. And this was a particularly messy mess. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. Red paint. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. "Get your bicycle. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Mr. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. Downing to mundane matters.bicycle from the shed. then on his right. He felt for his bunch of keys. and made his way to the shed. In the first place. walking delicately through dry places. "Pah!" said Mr. The air was full of the pungent scent. What he saw at first was not a Clue. leaving Mr. Watson could not have overlooked. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Mr. Riglett. Your careful detective must consider everything. Downing. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school. Downing unlocked the door. Give Dr. now coughed plaintively. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. "and be careful where you tread." Riglett. Downing. blushed. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. A foot-mark! No less. stood first on his left foot. however. Mr." he said. Then Mr. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. Downing remembered.

" A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned." "It is spilt all over the floor. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point. that there was paint on his boots.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. Quite so. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. He could get the ground-man's address from him. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first." he said. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. "Oh. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him." "I see. There's a barn just before you get to them. sir. by the way. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. I didn't go into the shed at all. on the right as you turn out into the road. His is the first you come to.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. Oh. but I could show you in a second. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. You did not do that. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. I shall be able to find them. sir. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. Thank you. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. His book had been interesting. Adair. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. sir. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. and the ground-man came out in . my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed. Adair." "Thank you. He rapped at the door of the first. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. I suppose. Things were moving. on returning to the house. There are three in a row. don't get up. Adair. "No. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates.

Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes. thank you. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. with the result that it has been kicked over. He was hot on the scent now. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. You had better get some more to-morrow. "Oh. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. It was Sunday. sir. yes." "Do you want it. An excellent idea. sir?" "No. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. ascertain its owner. sir. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. Picture. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. Quite so. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. It wanted a lick of paint bad. sir? No. Tell me. and spilt. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK ." "On the floor?" "On the floor. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. Outwood's house somewhere. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. and denounce him to the headmaster. Markby. blinking as if he had just woke up. Regardless of the heat. too. That is all I wished to know. Just as I thought. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. as was indeed the case." "Of course. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. The thing had become simple to a degree. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. The fact is. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. Makes it look shabby. no. Markby. Markby. sir.his shirt-sleeves." Mr. sir. All he had to do was to go to Mr." "Just so. thank you. Thank you. On the shelf at the far end.

sir. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. Smith. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. sir?" "Do as I tell you. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. Outwood. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. "A warm afternoon. ." murmured Psmith courteously. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. as he passed. found Mr." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. That is to say. who had just entered the house. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. "I was an ass ever to try it. no matter. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. I will be with you in about two ticks. sir. "Enough of this spoolery." Mike walked on towards the field. What brings him round in this direction." "With acute pleasure." snapped Mr. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories." "'Tis well. and said nothing. I wonder! Still. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on." said Mike.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith." said Mike disparagingly. He is welcome to them. "There's a kid in France. Downing arrived. and Psmith." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room. "Or shall I fetch Mr. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. Downing." said he. "What the dickens." said Psmith.

Downing stopped short. then moved on. baffled. Downing paused." said Mr." he cried. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. Downing nodded. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. Each boy. "Here. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. An idea struck the master. An airy room. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. opening a door. sir. sir. Psmith waited patiently by. Downing looked at him closely. Smith. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. The matron being out. but went down to the matron's room. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "I beg your pardon. . crimson in the face with the exercise. "The studies." Mr." he said. sir." said Psmith. I understand. panting slightly. "Aha!" said Psmith. Smith?" "Ferguson's study. sir. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds. "Is this impertinence studied. sir? No. This is Barnes'. "I think he's out in the field. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. Downing rose. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. Smith. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. "Shall I lead the way.Psmith said no more. "This." said Psmith. sir." said Psmith. The master snorted suspiciously. Smith." They moved on up the passage. "Are you looking for Barnes. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. Drawing blank at the last dormitory." "I was only wondering. "to keep your remarks to yourself. Mr. "Excuse me. That's further down the passage. Here we have----" Mr. "Show me the next dormitory. Mr. It is Mr. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. Mr. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. The observation escaped me unawares. sir?" he asked. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Downing with asperity." Mr. having examined the last bed.

Smith. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. that Mr. rapping a door. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment. sir. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. is it not." "I think. Smith." Mr." Mr. sir?" said Psmith. is mine and Jackson's. sir." said Mr. Downing with irritation." "Never mind about his cricket. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window." "Ah! Thank you. sir. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. "This. sir. sir." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. "The trees." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes." "Not at all. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. And. even in the dusk. The cricketer. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. the distant hills----" Mr." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. sir. "No. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. sir. No. Downing suddenly started. they go out extremely quickly. Downing pondered. Smith?" "Jackson. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith. sir. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. putting up his eyeglass. "Have you no bars to your windows here."Whose is this?" he asked." said Psmith. "A lovely view. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work. the field.

probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. trembling with excitement. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat. our genial knife-and-boot boy. Mr. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots." "Smith. Downing looked up." said Psmith affably. If he had been wise. Smith?" "Not one. at early dawn. and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. sir. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. he was certain. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket. As it was. prompting these manoeuvres. It was a fine performance. that they would be in the basket downstairs. and straightened out the damaged garment. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. I believe. Such a moment came to Mr. he would have achieved his object. "On the spot." Mr. sir. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind." said Mr. sir--no. Boots flew about the room. Psmith leaned against the wall. "Smith!" he said excitedly. "go and bring that basket to me here." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. and dumped is down on the study floor. "a fair selection of our various bootings." he said. and bent once more to his task." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. Mr. "We have here.in his life. or it might mean that he had been out all the time. I noticed them as he went out just now. Downing knelt on the floor beside . sir? He has them on. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell. Downing. collects them. But that there was something." Mr. Downing stooped eagerly over it. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. Edmund. "I should say at a venture. by a devious and snaky route. he rushed straight on. "His boots. he did not know. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. Downing then. Psmith had noticed. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. sir. sir." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs.

The headmaster was in his garden. Downing had finished. sir?" Mr. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. Bridgnorth. and when." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. "No. and. rising. Smith. with an exclamation of triumph. Downing made his way. one puts two and two together. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed. Psmith took the boot. on the following day." he said. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night. Downing reflected. sir. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me.the basket. "Indeed?" he said. carrying a dirty boot. sir?" "Certainly not." he said. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot." "Shall I put back that boot. wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. It was "Brown. He knew nothing. and doing so." Mr. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. sir. Leave the basket here. of course. I shall take this with me. of course. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint. After a moment Psmith followed him. "Put those back again. Downing left the room. "That's the lot." "Shall I carry it. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. Thither Mr. You can carry it back when you return." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway." as he did so. . "I think it would be best. might be a trifle undignified. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. when Mr. rose to his feet." he said. then." "Come with me. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. "Ah. At last he made a dive. In his hand he held a boot. began to pick up the scattered footgear. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. Smith. Downing. "Yes. understood what before had puzzled him. The ex-Etonian. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. boot-maker. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. Psmith looked at it again.

Mr. putting up his eyeglass. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. Downing. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez. this boot with exactly where Mr." said Psmith chattily. Mr. sir. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. "There was paint on this boot. I saw it with my own eyes. I brought it on purpose to show to you. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. Just Mr. fixed stare." The headmaster interposed.. is the--? Just so. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. Smith. These momentary optical delusions are.. But. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression. Smith will bear me out in this. "now let me so. There was no paint on this boot." he said vehemently. Psmith. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. I fancy. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. "who was remarkably subject----" . Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. Mr. er." "This is foolery. Just. sir. you say. the cynosure of all eyes. Downing was the first to break the silence. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot." said the headmaster. not uncommon. Downing. "You must have made a mistake."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. Of any suspicion of paint. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. It was a broad splash right across the toe. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. putting on a pair of look at--This. red or otherwise. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest..

" said Mr." said the headmaster. Smith. Smith."It is absurd." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. Downing. consequently. "that is surely improbable." said Psmith with benevolent approval." murmured Psmith." "Exactly. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr. If Mr. Smith?" "Did I speak. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own. at the moment. Smith. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. really. "Well. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness. sir. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. Shall I take the boot with me. I can assure you that it does not brush off. sir. "My theory." "Really." "You are very right. "for pleasure." "I am reading it. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. Downing shortly. Mr. sir?" . had not time to fade. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. I cannot have been mistaken. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. Downing." "A sort of chameleon boot. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. I remember thinking myself. "You had better be careful. if I may----?" "Certainly. with simple dignity. Mr. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute." "Yes. Downing looked searchingly at him. sir. streaming in through the window. sir." "It is undoubtedly black now. Downing. "What did you say." said Psmith." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. Downing recollects. he did not look long at the boot. The goaded housemaster turned on him. The afternoon sun. sir?" said Psmith." said the headmaster. "My theory. Mr. "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. "May I go now. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed." said Psmith. is that Mr. The picture on the retina of the eye. sir.

sir?" "Yes."If Mr. he. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. and lock the cupboard. where are we? In the soup. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. every time. was a most unusual sight. "I can manage without your help." he said. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. having included both masters in a kindly smile." he said to himself approvingly. Psmith. with a sigh. Smith. and turning in at Outwood's gate. and rose to assist him." he said. "That thing." Psmith sat down again. left the garden. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. Downing was brisk and peremptory. "Sit down. The scrutiny irritated Mr. hurried over to Outwood's. he raced down the road. Outwood's at that moment saw what. Downing appeared. he reflected. and the latter. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted." . Downing. Without brain. the spectacle of Psmith running. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. however. Smith. if they had but known it. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. in fact the probability. "Put that thing away. On arriving at the study. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. too. and Mr. that ridiculous glass. were friends. laid down his novel. On this occasion. "Brain. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. Mr. The possibility. Psmith and Mike." said the housemaster. He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling. "I wish to look at these boots again. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. Put it away. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over.

read if you like." ." "I was interested in what you were doing. There was very little cover there. patiently." "Open it. "Yes." "I guessed that that was the reason. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. who. now thoroughly irritated. "Just a few odd trifles. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. After the second search. Nothing of value or interest. This cupboard. and looked wildly round the room. "Yes. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. and Mr. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket. We do not often use it. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. perhaps. sir. Smith." Mr. He went through it twice. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir. A ball of string. Possibly an old note-book. His eye roamed about the room. sir?" "Yes. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. sir. sir?" asked Psmith. after fidgeting for a few moments. sir. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while." Psmith took up his book again. of harbouring the quarry. he stood up. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert." "Never mind. He rested his elbows on his knees. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. Downing rapped the door irritably." "May I read. Then he caught sight of the cupboard." "Thank you." "I think you will find that it is locked. "Smith!" he said. "Don't sit there staring at me. lodged another complaint. sir. on sight. Downing."Why. but each time without success. The floor could be acquitted. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. and his chin on his hands.

to whom that cupboard happens to belong."Unlock it. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with. sir. Then he was seized with a happy idea." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. if Smith were left alone in the room. "Yes. Downing stared. "Smith. And he knew that. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. Downing thought for a moment. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. perhaps----! On the other hand. "go and find Mr. He also reflected." Mr. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. amazed." "But where is the key. Smith would be alone in the room. "I don't believe a word of it. Outwood. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. I shall break open the door." he said shortly. Smith?" he inquired acidly. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. Outwood. If you wish to break it open." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. And I know it's not Mr. I am only the acting manager. Downing paused." he said. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through." Mr. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. Mr." Mr. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. Jackson might have taken it. sir. He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. staring into vacancy. sir." Psmith got up. sir. you must get his permission. and ask him to be good . "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. Outwood.

Smith?" Mr. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. "Let us be reasonable. But in Mr. to take a parallel case. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this . Outwood." Psmith still made no move. Smith." "What!" "Yes. "Do you intend to disobey me." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. Mr. "If you will let me explain. sir?" said Psmith meditatively." he continued. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. Outwood's house. I ought to have remembered that before. 'Mr. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. Smith. "on a technical point. If you pressed a button." "one cannot. "Thwarted to me face. Outwood. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. His manner was almost too respectful. One cannot. "Go and find Mr. sir. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. Mr. I would do the rest. I say to myself. and come back and say to me. 'Psmith.enough to come here for a moment. Downing's voice was steely. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker." he said." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. who resumed the conversation. Outwood at once. sir. and explain to him how matters stand. "Yes. however. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say." he said. as who should say. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. So in my case. ha. your word would be law. sir. "_Quick_. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. If you will go to Mr. I would fly to do your bidding. as if he had been asked a conundrum. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. "I take my stand.

he went to the window. Outwood. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. Downing wishes me to do. he re-locked the door. sir. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. Outwood with spirit. Smith. You see my difficulty. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. and. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. Outwood." added Psmith pensively to himself." snapped the sleuth. and took out the boot." ." "H'm!" said Mr. Downing was in the study. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. and with him Mr. there will be a boot there when you return. He went there. Downing stalked out of the room. unlocked the cupboard." Mr. Mr. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. "Very well. He noticed with approval." "My dear Outwood. was fastened to the wall by an iron band. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. and let the boot swing free. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. blackening his hand. Outwood. and washed off the soot. as the footsteps died away. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr.study. Then he turned to the boot. sir. "Where have you been. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket." "I can assure you." said Mr. Downing suspiciously. and thrust it up the chimney. He tied the other end of the string to this. Smith?" asked Mr." why he should not do so if he wishes it. when it had stopped swinging." added Mr. A shower of soot fell into the grate. Downing sharply. the latter looking dazed. When he returned. "I have been washing my hands. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. I shall not tell you again. at any rate." He took the key from his pocket. Smith. "Yes. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. "Smith. Placing this in the cupboard. that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. "But.

Downing shortly. "We must humour him. Outwood. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. Downing seized one of these. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . Outwood. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard." "So with your permission. "Why?" "I don't know why. none at all." said Mr. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." said Psmith sympathetically. sir. and tore the boot from its resting-place. "to be free from paint. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor. if you look at it sideways. Smith?" "I must have done. "Did you place that boot there. "I've been looking for it for days. was open for all to view. "You have touched the spot. my dear fellow. with any skeletons it might contain. At any rate. Let me see. my dear Outwood. Mr. The wood splintered." "I wondered where that boot had got to. Outwood with asperity. "I told you." Mr." he said. sir. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. Downing was examining his find." "It certainly appears." said Psmith. During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. He never used them." he said. glaring at Psmith. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now." "He painted--!" said Mr. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment. Downing?" interrupted Mr. Then. Mr. Now. "Objection? None at all. "This boot has no paint on it. Last night a boy broke out of your house. as Smith declares that he has lost the key. Psmith'a expression said. Have you any objection?" Mr. belonging to Mike. Outwood started. "I told you." said Psmith. approvingly. "This is not the boot. he did. There's a sort of reddish glow just there."Exactly. The cupboard. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. do you understand?" Mr." he added helpfully. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. and painted my dog Sampson red. round-eyed. Downing uttered a cry of triumph." "If I must explain again.

SMITH?"] "Yes. though. Downing laughed grimly. Apply them. Smith?" he asked slowly. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand." he said. Downing. "Ah. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. nearly knocking Mr. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. sir. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. You were not quite clever enough. my dear Watson. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. "Animal spirits. baffled. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush." he said. not to have given me all this trouble. "WHAT!" . Outwood off his feet. "Fun!" Mr. from earth to heaven. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. Smith." "You would have done better. but he ignored it. sir." said Psmith patiently." said Psmith. You have done yourself no good by it. Unfortunately." "No. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. Downing's eye. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. he used the sooty hand. Outwood had the grate. sir.") Mr. Smith. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. "We all make mistakes. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods. He looked up. He bent down to "Dear me." Mr. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. But his brain was chance remark of Mr." "It's been great fun. "I thought as much. It should have been done before. A little more. once more." argued Psmith. Mr. Downing a good. after all. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. and a thrill went through him. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. sir. and one could imagine him giving Mr. hard knock." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr.

He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. Outwood. of course. he took the count. just as he was opening his mouth." he said. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. at the back of the house. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding. You are quite black. Downing had found the other." Then he allowed Mr. and sponges." What Mr. Psmith went to the window. His fears were realised. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. "You will hear more of this. Really. far from the madding crowd. and hauled in the string. you present a most curious appearance. though one can guess roughly. It would take a lot of cleaning. Mr."Animal spirits. and it was improbable that Mr. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. but on the whole it had been worth it. Edmund. "Soot!" he murmured weakly." said Psmith. my dear fellow. It seemed to him that. and it had cut into his afternoon. sir." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. soap. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. ." he said. he saw. Smith. The boot-cupboard was empty." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. * * * * * When they had gone. for the time being. quite covered. For. Having restored the basket to its proper place. "I say you will hear more of it. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. worked in some mysterious cell. the boot-boy. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. "My dear Downing. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. He went down beneath it. Let me show you the way to my room. Mr. "your face. In the language of the Ring. It was the knock-out. until he should have thought out a scheme. You must come and wash it. as he had said. intervened. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney. accordingly. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. most. sir. It had been trying. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. for a man of refinement. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. he went up to the study again. at about the same height where Mr. It is positively covered with soot. positively.

with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. he should not wear shoes. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. "Jones." replied Edmund to both questions. "Well. It was not altogether forgetfulness. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. should he prefer them. which one observes naturally and without thinking. Edmund. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. So Psmith kept his own counsel. but. At a school. to be gained from telling Mike. sir. Psmith was no exception to the rule. There is no real reason why. "I may have lost a boot. and then said. he thought. Edmund. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. "'Ere's one of 'em. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. Jackson." Edmund turned this over in his mind. "No. Mr. had no views on the subject. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. if the day is fine. Boys say. So in the case of boots. thank goodness. But. I can still understand sound reasoning. Mr." "Well. there's the bell." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings." as much as to say. Jackson. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. "One? What's the good of that. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . "Great Scott. if he does. There was nothing. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves." he said. the thing creates a perfect sensation. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. I mean--Oh. for instance. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. dash it.

including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. had regarded Mike with respect. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. turning to Stone. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. Mike. They cannot see it. Stone. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval." mechanically. and the form. It was only Mr. sir?" said Mike. Jackson?" "Pumps. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. looking on them. called his name." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. sir. "Yes. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. On one occasion. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. Then. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. lines.. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. Downing.. "I have lost one of my boots. or else to pull one of them off. accordingly. and finally "That will do. and the subsequent proceedings.shoes. with a few exceptions. yes. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite. sir." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. was taken unawares. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them. he floundered hopelessly. as worms. Downing's lips. abuse. but they feel it in their bones. But. leaning back against the next row of desks. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong.. as he usually did. Mr. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. Mr. he told him to start translating. stiffening like a pointer. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. of a vivid crimson. Satire. Downing who gave trouble. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. He said "Yes.

but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not.C. Mr. which nobody objects to. completed the chain. and all that sort of thing." "Personally. with the explanation that he had lost a boot. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. it is no joke taking a high catch. jumping on board." "I shouldn't wonder. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. "It's all rot." said Stone. I mean. They played well enough when on the field. His case was complete. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. and the first American interviewer. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. Mike's appearance in shoes. and no strain. however. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance." said Stone. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. Mike himself. gnawing his bun. and sped to the headmaster. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. he gathered up his gown. "I don't intend to stick it. In view of the M. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. said. came to a momentous decision.returned. compared with Mike's. Downing feel at that moment. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it." said Robinson. As a rule. to wit. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. that searching test of cricket keenness. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. match on the Wednesday. As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour." . Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. Until the sun has really got to work. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast.C. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. Rushing about on an empty stomach. Downing's mind was in a whirl. sir. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. "Wal. yawning and heavy-eyed. consequently. in the cool morning air.

He can't play the M. with a scratch team." Their position was a strong one. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. it's such absolute rot. but in reality he has only one weapon." he said briskly. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives.C. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs. after all? Only kick us out of the team. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power." "Yes." he said." "All right. Stone was the first to recover. With the majority. he'd better find somebody else. either. As a rule he had ten minutes with the . as they left the shop. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. who his right. found himself two short. Stone and Robinson felt secure. Barnes was among those present. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case." "Nor do I. unless he is a man of action." At this moment Adair came into the shop. the keenness of those under him. "Rather." And he passed on." said Robinson. You two must buck up. consequently. are easily handled. "at six. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. questioned on the subject. You were rotten to-day. Besides. "He can do what he likes about it. of course. and the chance of making runs greater. The result of all this was that Adair. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. and. If he does.C. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. Taking it all round. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. And I don't mind that." "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. had no information to give. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school."Nor do I. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for. you know. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs. wherever and however made. The majority. At breakfast that morning thought. "Let's. leaving the two malcontents speechless. what can he do. Mr. Downing. practically helpless. Which was not a great help. then he finds himself in a difficult position. Barnes." "I don't think he will kick us out. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow." "I mean.

who. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "Hullo. He resolved to interview the absentees. "We didn't turn up. We didn't give it the chance to. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. however. I suppose?" "That's just the word." he said.daily paper before the bell rang. not having seen the paper. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects. To-day. who left the lead to Stone in all matters." "Sorry it bored you. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room. said nothing." "It didn't. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. Adair!" "Don't mention it. "We decided not to. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. He never shirked anything. It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. Many captains might have passed the thing over. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. "You were rather fed-up. "I know you didn't. Stone spoke. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. "Sorry." "Oh?" "Yes." Robinson laughed appreciatively. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. physical or moral." said Stone. . Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind." Adair's manner became ominously calm.

You must see that you can't do anything. Robinson?" asked Adair. you can kick us out of the team. Adair." said Stone. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you. you are now. Adair." "You can turn out if you feel like it. but he said it without any deep conviction." said Stone. Don't be late." "That'll be a disappointment. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row." Stone intervened." said Adair quietly."What's the joke. We've told you we aren't going to. if you like. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. Of course." "What!" "Six sharp." said Robinson. All the same." "That's only your opinion. I'll give you till five past six. I think you are. and knocked him down. and was standing in the middle of the open space. We'll play for the school all right. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort." "Don't be an ass. "You cad. "It's no good making a row about it. He was up again in a moment." said the junior partner in the firm. You won't find me there. "I was only thinking of something. as you seem to like lying in bed. "Right." "Well." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. "There's no joke. but we don't care if you do. Shall we go on?" . There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. with some haste. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. you're going to to-morrow morning. Adair had pushed the table back. "I wasn't ready. So we're all right. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. Nor Robinson?" "No." "Good." "You don't think there is? You may be right.

"I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's." said Adair. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again." said Adair. "You don't happen to know if he's in. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." said Stone. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show. He was not altogether a coward. "I'll turn up." said Adair. "All right. I don't know if he's still there. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. How about you.Stone dashed in without a word." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction." "Good. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. and he knew more about the game." Stone made no reply." "I'll go and see. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. "Thanks. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. even in a confined space." he said hastily. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation. but he was cooler and quicker. "All right. "Thanks. He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table. But science tells.

Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth. In fact. Since this calamity. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. * * * * * Psmith. The M. was off. led by Mike's brother Reggie. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. This was one of them. looking up from his paper. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. and went on reading. In school cricket one good batsman. said Strachan. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. returned with a rush. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons.on below stairs. was hard lines on Ripton. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. that Adair. Mike mourned over his suffering school.. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. A broken arm. And it was at this point.C. If only he could have been there to help. The Ripton match. Psmith was the first to speak. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. entered the room. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering. including Dixon. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. He's had a . "If you ask my candid opinion. Which. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs.C. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. wrote Strachan. Altogether. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. The Incogs. when his resentment was at its height. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. which had been ebbing during the past few days. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. fortunately." he said. everything had gone wrong. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. It might have made all the difference. the fast bowler.

gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. We----" "Buck up." . go thee." said Psmith approvingly. We must be strenuous. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute.C. I bet Long Jack." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. We must hustle. is waiting there with a sandbag. This is no time for loitering. "We weren't exactly idle. I'll none of thee. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. the poacher. but it was pretty lively while it did. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. Speed is the key-note of the present age. "It didn't last long. That is Comrade Jackson. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. The fact that the M." "That." said Adair." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. Shakespeare. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks." said Psmith. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. He could not quite follow what all this was about. Care to see the paper." "Fate. Adair. too. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise.C. Stone chucked it after the first round. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. Despatch." said Adair grimly." he said. For some reason. sitting before you. "has led your footsteps to the right place." he sighed. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. the Pride of the School. Promptitude." "What do you want?" said Mike. Oh. It won't take long. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson. "Certainly. "There are lines on my face. "Surely." Mike got up out of his chair. which might possibly be made dear later. "is right. Leave us." said Adair. I thought that you and he were like brothers." Psmith turned away. dark circles beneath my eyes. after a prolonged inspection. "I'm not the man I was. We must Do It Now. knave. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school. Adair was looking for trouble." said Psmith." said Mike. We would brood. "I'll tell you in a minute.

"What makes you think that?" "I don't think. "So are you.C. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. "I'm going to make you. "it's too late to alter that now. "are a bit close together. so we argued it out. rather. "Oh?" said Mike at last. and I want you to get some practice. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. are you?" said Mike politely. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. isn't it?" "Very. "What makes you think I shall play against the M. He's going to all right. He said he wouldn't. and Adair looked at Mike. turning from the glass. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. So is Robinson." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes. Mike said nothing.?" he asked curiously." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. . stepped between them." replied Adair with equal courtesy. turning to Mike.C. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another. "I am." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. You aren't building on it much." "My eyes." said Psmith regretfully. to-morrow.said Adair." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. and in that second Psmith." Mike took another step forward. Mike looked at Adair." added Adair." Mike remained silent. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. I know." Mike drew a step closer to Adair.C. However." he added philosophically.C. "I get thinner and thinner." "I don't think so. There was an electric silence in the study. Adair moved to meet him.

So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. In a fight each party. one does not dislike one's opponent." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. and are consequently brief and furious. Smith." said Mike. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. Directly Psmith called "time. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. a mere unscientific scramble. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair. only a few yards down the road. In a boxing competition. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. I lodge a protest."Get out of the light. then. It was this that saved Mike. where you can scrap all night if you want to." he said. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life. On the present occasion. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. But school fights. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. Dramatically. If you really feel that you want to scrap. "My dear young friends. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. what would have been. Up to the moment when "time" was called. If Adair had kept away and used his head. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. nothing could have prevented him winning. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. without his guiding hand. however much one may want to win. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. hates the other. "will be of three minutes' duration. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. with a minute rest in between." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike. one was probably warmly attached to him. "The rounds. I suppose you must. Are you ready. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. as a rule. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows. The latter was a clever boxer. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture." After which. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. producing a watch." he said placidly. he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. Time. .

which would do him no earthly good. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. He rose full of fight. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. This finished Adair's chances. as anybody looking on would have seen. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. and he was all but knocked out. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. In the excitement of a fight--which is. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. coming forward. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. thirty seconds from the start. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much. that Adair was done. There was a swift exchange of blows. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. He went in at Mike with both hands. Mike could not see this. the cricketer. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. The feat presented that interesting person. "but exciting. Jackson. At the same time." said Psmith. however." said Psmith. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. he knew. I shouldn't stop. Then he lurched forward at Mike. I'll look after him. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing. If it's going to be continued in our next. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. Mike Jackson. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. so he hit out with all his strength. The Irish blood in him." "Is he hurt much. and then Adair went down in a heap. but with all the science knocked out of him. now rendered him reckless. do you think?" asked Mike. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be.As it was. Mike had the greater strength. . and. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. You go away and pick flowers. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. he threw away his advantages. "Brief. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. "_He's_ all right. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. that there was something to be said for his point of view. much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. He got up slowly and with difficulty. Psmith saw. if I were you. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap. after all. We may take that. the deliverer of knock-out blows. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. I think. was strange to him. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. to be the conclusion of the entertainment. but Jackson. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account.

C. after much earnest thought. if possible. and drained the bad blood out of him. You didn't. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. in fact. It shook him up. It's not a bad idea in its way. why not?" . He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt." said Mike indignantly. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. There was a pause. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair.The fight." "He's all right. when Psmith entered the study. of course?" "Of course not. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. Where." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. As a start. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. Jones. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. before. to a certain extent. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. "Sha'n't play. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. However. to return to the point under discussion. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him. We have been chatting. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid." he said. My eloquence convinced him. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M.' game. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once.C. Psmith straightened his tie. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons." said Mike. He had come to this conclusion. He's not a bad cove. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. "Look here. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. had the result which most fights have. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger." continued Psmith. but every one to his taste. not afraid of work.

but it was not to be. bar rotting. and after a while I gave up the struggle." "You're rotting. And in time the thing becomes a habit. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket. However----" . Smith. Comrade Jackson. that I had found a haven of rest. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass. and drifted with the stream. where was I? Gone. It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. But when the cricket season came. I did think." "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. but look here." said Psmith. I turn out to-morrow." "No. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. "my secret sorrow. I fought against it." "Quite right. You said you only liked watching it. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. breathing on a coat-button." Mike stared. Last year. _I_ am playing. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. I do. I hate to think. "If your trouble is. What Comrade Outwood will say." said Psmith. little by little." "You wrong me. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces." "----Dismiss it. "You're what? You?" "I. and polishing it with his handkerchief. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. when I came here. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. but it was useless." said Psmith. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so.

" "That's all right. I'll play. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. and ran back to Outwood's. A spot of rain fell on his hand. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. the recalcitrant. Since the term began. Close the door gently after you. He's sprained his wrist. It's nothing bad. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. He's not playing against the M. therefore. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow. Adair won't be there himself. wavering on the point of playing for the school. Mike turned up his coat-collar. but useless to anybody who values life. as the storm. "By Jove. He was not by nature intuitive. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. I'll go round. You won't have to. "if you're playing. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do." On arriving at Mr. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match.C. "there won't be a match at all ." "Not a bad scheme. Anyhow. I'll write a note to Adair now. Psmith whimsically. I don't know. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide." he said. "At this rate. But. A moment later there was a continuous patter. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. which had been gathering all day. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house. and here was Psmith. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so.C. but he read Psmith's mind now. broke in earnest. Here was he.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike." he said to himself." "I say. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change. Then in a flash Mike understood. it went. And they had both worked it off. Downing's and going to Adair's study. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. If Psmith.

"Right ho!" said Adair. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school. "About nine to. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping. while figures in mackintoshes. if one didn't hurry." "Beastly. yes. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it." "Good." "Yes. with discoloured buckskin boots. to show what it can do in another direction. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. . They walked on in silence. in the gentle. We've got plenty of time. Adair fished out his watch. it does the thing thoroughly. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion." "I hate having to hurry over to school. damp and depressed." "Oh." "Beastly nuisance when one does. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly. These moments are always difficult. and then the rain began again. So do I. Three if one didn't hurry. Mike. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. isn't it?" said Mike. "It's only about ten to. Might be three. shouldn't you?" "Not much more." "Yes. after behaving well for some weeks." Another silence." "Yes." "So do I. met Adair at Downing's gate." "I often do cut it rather fine. crawl miserably about the field in couples. I should think. though. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." * * * * * When the weather decides.to-morrow.

. I say. Jolly hard luck."Beastly day. scowling at his toes." "Yes. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. I say. doesn't it?" "Rotten. no.." . Less." "Rummy. rot. "I say. no. It was only right at the end. thanks." "Oh. no. rather not.. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." "What's the time?" asked Mike. "Five to." "Oh.. You'd have smashed me anyhow." "I bet you anything you like you would. that's all right. It looks pretty bad.... rot. Smith turning out to be a cricketer." "I bet you I shouldn't. with his height." "Does it hurt?" "Oh." said Mike. that's all right.." "Oh. we ought to have a jolly good season." said Adair. "Rotten." "Now that you and Smith are going to play." "Yes. Adair produced his watch once more. "I don't know. "awfully sorry about your wrist." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "Oh. probably." Silence again. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." "We've heaps of time. just before the match." "Oh. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week.." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year." "Good. It was my fault.

" "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." "No. I wouldn't have done it. "Yes. So they ought to be." "Of course. It was only for a bit. "What rot!" he said. "I say. Mike. even if he had." "He never even asked me to get him a place. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up. no. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have. heaps. really. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment." Adair shuffled awkwardly. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings. that's all right. I know. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. rotten little hole." "It was rotten enough. not playing myself. after the way you've sweated. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness." "Oh." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road." "Of course not. as it were: for now. . shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition. Everybody's as keen as blazes. Smith told me you couldn't have done. I know." "I didn't want to play myself. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. He eluded the pitfall. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh."Yes. and come to a small school like this." "No. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. on the Chinese principle. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. isn't it?" or words to that effect. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. no. for the second time in two days. fortunately.

and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. "if that's any comfort to you. They probably aren't sending down much of a team." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. we'd walk into them. there's the bell. "I can't have done. when you get to know him.C.C. I never thought of it before. anyhow. with you and Smith. We've got math." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. with a grin. You'd better get changed. we've got a jolly hot lot. because I'm certain. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season." "It might clear before eleven. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle." "What! They wouldn't play us." "All right. so I don't see anything of him all day. and the bowling isn't so bad." said Mike." Mike stopped." said Adair. and it would be rather rot playing it without you. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. We sha'n't get a game to-day. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. I got about half a pint down my neck just then. I've never had the gloves on in my life. "By jove. Hullo. they're worse. I'm not sure that I care much. I wish we could play. I don't know which I'd least soon be." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. There's quite decent batting all the way through. then." he said. lot a really good hammering." . now that you and Smith are turning out. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. and hang about in case. Dash this rain. which won't hurt me. I must have looked rotten. My jaw still aches. They'd simply laugh at you." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. As you're crocked. "_You_ were all right. till the interval. If only we could have given this M." "I don't know that so much. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. who doesn't count."I've always been fairly keen on the place. and really. Downing or a black-beetle. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. at the interval. They began to laugh. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record. We'd better be moving on. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. "But I don't suppose I've done anything much. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. You see. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. of anything like it. As for the schools.

At least. That's the worst of being popular."Yes. regretfully agreed. if you like. You come and have a shot. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike.C. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision.'" . Meanwhile. "A nuisance.C. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. the captain. And they aren't strong this year. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. M. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night. were met by a damp junior from Downing's." said Psmith. Mr. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. The messenger did not know. captain. wandering back to the house. he worked at it both in and out of school. The two teams. without looking up. We'll smash them. and the first Sedleigh _v_. I'm pretty sure they would. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. after hanging about dismally. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. 'Psmith is baffled. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. So they've got a vacant date. To which Adair. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. match was accordingly scratched. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed." he said at last. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms.C. approaching Adair. with a message that Mr. and would be glad if Mike would step across. was agitated." Mike changed quickly. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. "this incessant demand for you. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house. leaving Psmith." said Psmith. "By Jove. If he wants you to stop to tea. edge away. Mike. Downing. The whisper flies round the clubs. I had a letter from Strachan. and went off. After which the M.C. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. it seemed. For the moment I am baffled. they would. Mike and Psmith. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness. had not confided in him. yesterday. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds.

" "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. you know all about that." "I know. "Which it was. But. I believe he's off his nut. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg." "He thinks I did it. "I didn't. by the way?" asked Psmith." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. As far as I can see. dash it. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing." said Mike warmly. "My dear man. he's been crawling about. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. The thing's a stand-off." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened." said Mike shortly." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. "Me." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. pretty nearly. "No." "_Did_ you. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did." said Psmith. He as good as asked me to. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." "Evidence!" said Mike. Give you a nice start in life. . Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right.

" "I don't know what the game is. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. sickening thud. But what makes him think that the boot." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed. Be a man. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots. right in the cart. Psmith listened attentively. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me. but one's being soled. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't. Of course I've got two pairs. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. "Say on!" "Well. Get it over. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. and glared at it.Why." said Psmith. meaning to save you unpleasantness. kneeling beside the fender and groping. "It _is_. That's how he spotted me. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. so he thinks it's me. and reach up the chimney. if any. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. "Comrade Jackson. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show." said Psmith. with a dull. and it's nowhere about." said Psmith. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone." "It is true. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. 'tis not blood. It must have been the paint-pot. In my simple zeal. It is red paint. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. "your boot. and is hiding it somewhere. you were with him when he came and looked for them. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. ." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily." said Mike.] "It's my boot!" he said at last." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. it was like this." he said mournfully." Psmith sighed." "Yes. I have landed you.

that he is now on the war-path. "It _is_ a tightish place." "Well. I hope you'll be able to think of something." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. and I said I didn't care. I _am_ in the cart." he admitted. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. and the chap who painted Sammy." "I suppose not. I will think over the matter. You had better put the case in my hands. in a moment of absent-mindedness. "Not for a pretty considerable time."This. so to speak." Psmith pondered. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. collecting a gang. by any chance. and he said very well. you see. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. I suppose not. when Mike had finished. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. taking it all round. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing." asked Psmith. So. I can't. and try to get something out of me. You see. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. I hadn't painted his bally dog. "quite sufficient. he must take steps." "Possibly. That was why I rang the alarm bell. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean." "Sufficient. The worst of it is." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it. or some rot. then. inspecting it with disfavour." said Psmith. that was about all. too. too. Downing chased me that night. and forgot all about it? No? No." "Probably. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. they're bound to guess why. in connection with this painful affair." "_He'll_ want you to confess. you can't prove an alibi." said Mike. This needs thought." he said. are the same. which was me. If I can't produce this boot." "What exactly. I shall get landed both ways. then. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. Masters are all whales on confession. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all. I take it. You never know. was it?" "Yes. I say. and--well." .

then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog. "See how we have trained them. Simply stick to stout denial." said Mike to Psmith. . and requested to wait. "_You're_ all right." suggested Psmith." he added. at the same dignified rate of progress. Psmith stood by politely till the postman." he said. and. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. heaved himself up again. Don't go in for any airy explanations." He turned to the small boy. when the housemaster came in. Downing which hung on the wall. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel.There was a tap at the door. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. Downing shortly. who had leaned back in his chair. He was examining a portrait of Mr. when Psmith." With which expert advice. sir. Jackson will be with him in a moment. "All this is very trying. "that Mr. Come in. he allowed Mike to go on his way. "They now knock before entering. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall." The emissary departed. wrapped in thought. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. "Tell Willie. who had just been told it was like his impudence." said Mr. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid. "Oh." "I told you so. passed away. "An excellent likeness." said Psmith. answered the invitation. "Don't go. He had not been gone two minutes. sir. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. Thence. The postman was at the door when he got there." Mike got up." said Psmith encouragingly. I say." "Ha!" said Mr. He was. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. "Well. "Just you keep on saying you're all right. "Tell him to write." A small boy. Jackson. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting. it seemed. Downing. caught sight of him. Smith. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. You can't beat it. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith." said Psmith." said Psmith. "Is Mr. Stout denial is the thing.

A voice without said. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. It was a boy in the same house. Masters. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day. The headmaster was just saying. what it got was the dramatic interruption. who committed the--who painted my dog. "Mr. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. as a rule. Jackson. Downing had laid before him. "but----" "Not at all. as he sat and looked at Mike. After the first surprise. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. "I would not have interrupted you. As for Psmith . Smith. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. felt awkward. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. do not realise this. Downing to see you. especially if you really are innocent. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. He could not believe it. but boys nearly always do." said Psmith. sir. As it happened."I did it. and the headmaster. but anybody. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. unsupported by any weighty evidence. sir. and conversation showed a tendency to flag. Downing. it was not Jackson." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. Mr. The atmosphere was heavy. "I do not think you fully realise. "No. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative." said Mr." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. except possibly the owner of the dog. Downing. would have thought it funny at first. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. It was a kid's trick. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short.

Mike felt." "No. if possible." "Yes. sir. looking at Mr. if you are going back to your house. He sat there. certainly. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. Downing was saying. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion." "It wasn't Jackson who did it." said the Head. Downing----" "It was Dunster. as if he had been running." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. "Certainly. sir?" he said. sir. Mr. sir. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Adair. Well. "Ah. Downing." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. "May I go. Jackson. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. and er--. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Downing. "Oh. Mr. with calm triumph. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. "Adair!" . It did not make him in the least degree jubilant." said the headmaster. "Yes. what did you wish to say. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them. Mike simply did not believe it. Adair. "Come in. or even thankful. tell Smith that I should like to see him. who was nodding from time to time." he said. sir. when again there was a knock. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. hardly listening to what Mr. "Smith!" said the headmaster. It was Adair. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily." He had reached the door. So Mr. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. Downing leaped in his chair.having done it. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. we know--. This was bound to mean the sack. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge." said Mr. no.

sir. It was a . "But Adair. but not particularly startling. sir. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster." said the headmaster. sir. Downing. Downing had gone over to see you. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. and he told me that Mr. was guiltless." "_Laughed!_" Mr. Downing." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. but he wasn't in the house. Downing at once. two minutes after Mr. I'd better tell Mr. had played a mean trick on him. sir. if Dunster had really painted the dog. and that. Well. that Psmith. "Yes. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. Why Dunster. had left the school at Christmas. who. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. perhaps. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. of all people? Dunster. But that Adair should inform him." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. He rolled about.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. Downing snorted. The situation had suddenly become too much for him." "Smith told you?" said Mr." "I see. sir. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. was curious. should be innocent. sir. sir. Downing's voice was thunderous. And why. He stopped the night in the village. I tried to find Mr. "Adair!" "Yes. for a rag--for a joke. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. too." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. he remembered dizzily. in the words of an American author. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. He has left the school. Then I met Smith outside the house. His brain was swimming. "Yes. the dog." Mr. despite the evidence against him. sir. That Mike. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. sir.

" "The sergeant. the silence was quite solid. sir?" "Sit down. sir." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. "It is still raining. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. Ask him to step up. "Mr. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. He gave the impression of one who. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. Downing. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. sir. Barlow." "If you please. He was cheerful. The door was opened." "Yes." he observed. but." "Another freak of Dunster's. sir. pressing a bell. sir." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation. discreditable thing to have done. Smith is waiting in the hall. Adair. . but slightly deprecating. "You wished to see me." said Mr." "In the hall!" "Yes. "I shall write to him. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him. sir. "kindly go across to Mr. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality." said the headmaster." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience.foolish. Barlow. sir." "Thank you. Outwood's house. It was not long. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men. If he did not do it. Downing. as the butler appeared." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner." said Mr. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs." "H'm." he said. though sure of his welcome." said the headmaster. Smith. while it lasted. saying that he would wait. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. I suppose. He arrived soon after Mr. Mr. Smith. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking.

" "But. "how frequently. like a reservoir that has broken its banks. I do not for a moment wish to pain you. sir. When he and Psmith were alone. "Er--Smith." He made a motion towards the door. He paused again. Smith--" began the headmaster. let us say. sir." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor." . as a child. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. "Smith. but have you--er. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. Downing burst out." he replied sadly." proceeded Psmith placidly." "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding.Mr. Then he went on. "It is remarkable. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. "Smith. "Smith." "Yes. do you remember ever having had. "The curse of the present age. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. "The craze for notoriety. sir. Mr. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities." "What!" cried the headmaster. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. sir. when a murder has been committed. there was silence. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it." he said." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. "Er--Smith. Jackson. "----This is a most extraordinary affair.

the proper relations boy and--Well. sir----" Privately." There was a pause. then. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. We had a very pleasant chat. Downing's dog.. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. as he walked downstairs. "What's he done?" "Nothing. it was like this. sir. let me hear what you wish to course.. at last. but he said nothing." said Psmith. For the moment. "Well?" said Mike.. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further. That was the whole thing." said the headmaster hurriedly.. "It was a very wrong thing to do. and then I tore myself away. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr." said Psmith cheerfully. This is strictly between ourselves. "Well. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. if you do not wish it. sir. You are a curious boy." "I think you are existing between can return to it say. tell nobody. "Of course. never mind that for the present. You think. "By no means a bad old sort. of sometimes apt to forget." "Well."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion." said Adair. We later." ." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know.." said Psmith. sir." He held out his hand. Good-night. "but. Smith. Smith. sir. of course. I shall.." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. "You _are_ the limit. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves." said the headmaster. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. "Good-night. Smith." said Psmith meditatively to himself. Of course. sir. Smith. quite so. "Not a bad old sort.

I hope the dickens they'll do it. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. who had led on the first innings. when you see him. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. In a way one might have said that the game was over." said Adair." said he. "you wrong me."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. I'm surprised at you. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game." said Mike obstinately. They walked on towards the houses. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." said Mike." "And give Comrade Downing." "What's that?" asked Psmith." Psmith moaned. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is." said Psmith. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_." "Well. you're a marvel. Psmith thanked him courteously." said Mike. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. "And it was jolly good of you. too. and Wrykyn." Psmith's expression was one of pain. There is a certain type of . chuck it. all the same. You make me writhe. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. I believe you did." * * * * * "I say. and things were going badly for Sedleigh. "Good-night. "My dear Comrade Jackson. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. Adair. "They've got a vacant date. and that Sedleigh had lost. "By the way. for it was a one day match." "Well." "Oh. "my very best love." said Mike suddenly. I should think they're certain to. had only to play out time to make the game theirs." said Adair. Psmith. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day.

assisted by Barnes. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. and the others. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in. declined to hit out at anything. Unless the first pair make a really good start. the Wrykyn slow bowler. with Barnes not out sixteen. several of them.C. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. Mike. and he used it. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. He had an enormous reach. Sedleigh had never been proved. and Mike. and he had fallen after hitting one four. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. a collapse almost invariably ensues. and . and from whom. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. It was useless for Adair to tell them. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. Sedleigh. July the twentieth. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. for seventy-nine. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. and were clean bowled. He had had no choice but to take first innings. Experience counts enormously in school matches. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. Wrykyn had then gone in. with the exception of Adair. from time immemorial.school batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. the bulwark of the side. playing back to half-volleys. that Wrykyn were weak this season. as a rule. with his score at thirty-five. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. Stone. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. The team listened. whatever might happen to the others. on Mike's authority. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. Adair did not suffer from panic. but were not comforted. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. as he did repeatedly. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. Whereas Wrykyn. but then Wrykyn cricket. The weather had been bad for the last week. the team had been all on the jump. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. crawled to the wickets. Ten minutes later the innings was over. It was likely to get worse during the day. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary.C. and. Psmith. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. had played inside one from Bruce. this in itself was a calamity. so Adair had chosen to bat first. Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. Robinson.

"There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. And they had hit. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. As Mike reached the pavilion. the next pair. all but a dozen runs. was getting too dangerous. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. who had just reached his fifty. Changes of bowling had been tried. This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. two runs later. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. who had taken six wickets. Adair declared the innings closed. Psmith got the next man stumped. The deficit had been wiped off. And when Stone came in. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. Adair bowled him. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. This was better than Sedleigh had expected.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. especially Psmith. if they could knock Bruce off. with an hour all but five minutes to go. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. at fifteen. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. and he was convinced that. But. and refused to hit at the bad. As is usual at this stage of a match. It doesn't help my . having another knock. and which he hit into the pavilion. And when. They were playing all the good balls. So Drummond and Rigby. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. restored to his proper frame of mind. but it was a comfort. Seventeen for three. and the collapse ceased. his slows playing havoc with the tail. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence. and lashed out stoutly. as they were crossing over. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. had never been easy. The time was twenty-five past five. when Psmith was bowled. But Adair and Psmith. A quarter past six struck. at any rate. skied one to Strachan at cover. helped by the wicket. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. which was Psmith's. and after him Robinson and the rest. they felt. He treated all the bowlers alike. proceeded to play with caution. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. their nervousness had vanished.

Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. Still. "I feel like a beastly renegade. was a shade too soon. There were twenty-five minutes to go. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground.leg-breaks a bit. After that the thing was a walk-over. is to get the thing started. "I say. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. That's what Adair was so keen on." "I suppose they will. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. he's satisfied." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. As a matter of fact. because they won't hit at them. got to it as he was falling." said Mike. Incidentally. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up. They can get on fixtures with decent . the great thing. Sedleigh was on top again. Adair will have left. playing against Wrykyn. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well." said Psmith. discussing things in general and the game in particular. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. hitting out. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. collapsed uncompromisingly. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post. I'm glad we won. Five minutes before. you see. "he was going about in a sort of trance. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. and Mike. and the tail." "Yes. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game. I shall have left. "Still. The batsman. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. and it'll make him happy for weeks. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot." "When I last saw Comrade Adair." said Psmith. Wrykyn will swamp them. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. diving to the right. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. Adair's a jolly good sort. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop." "He bowled awfully well. and chucked it up. and five wickets were down. when Adair took the ball from him.

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